This September, Theatr Na nÓg brings a delightfully different musical to the King’s Theatre in the form of “Eye of The Storm”. We follow the tale of Emmie Price, a young woman who wants to change the world by chasing storms and harnessing renewable energy, and ultimately overcomes her own difficult circumstances.
“Eye of the Storm” uses folk music written by Amy Wadge to engage its audiences. A grammy winner herself, Wadge has clearly come out triumphant with these toe-tapping country tunes; songs such as “Alive” and “Lloyd Song”, were clearly audience favourites.
Regarding the plot line, this show is certainly a slow burner. Whilst in the first act we struggle to really connect with any character in particular, in the second there are moments that are truly humorous. Rosey Cale as Emmie certainly leads the cast, and is a very capable singer and actress. It is the script, however, that lets her down; her character is ever so slightly clichéd, and fails to come across as entirely genuine.
Other characters fall prey to this as well, including Angela, Emmie’s mentally ill mother, who predominantly comes across as cruel and uncaring. This is arguably clearer in the portrayal of this part, as Llinos Daniel struggles slightly to keep up with the rest of the cast. The song designated to her, “Pie in the Sky”, feels out of her range and strained, though it is the first time we see the softer, more gentle aspect of this character.
The fondest, most humorous scenes in the musical itself are the ones that occur at Emmie’s school, with her classmates. At first, I was alarmed when the actors who were to play the school boys central to Emmie’s story made their way onto the stage, as it was clear that they were not the correct playing age to play the parts naturalistically; however, it complemented the humour of the scenes perfectly, and soon became one of the most light-hearted elements of the performance on a whole. Dan Miles, as Lloyd, was particularly noticeable as the love-struck young schoolboy enamoured with Emmie, with the perfect physicality and tone to ensure the audience rooted for his naïve and determined character from the start.
The set was exceptional. A cluttered mobile home remains onstage for the entirety of the performance, and plays host to Emmie’s turbulent home life; a cyclorama along the back wall is used throughout to push forward the ongoing allegory of stormy weather, and is particularly impressive. The band remains onstage throughout, as the cast themselves make up the band (all are excellent musicians). In a similar style to that of Waitress, the constant presence of the band is a wonderful touch, and keeps the whimsical, musical aspect of this production fresh in the audience’s mind.
Whilst it may be a slow burner, this musical does precisely what a musical should do: it distracts with wonderful songs, and maintains an important message throughout.