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Lift: The Musical

Lift Craig Adams Soho Theatre Julie Atherton

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#31 fringefan

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 05:03 PM

I've also seen it and am glad I did, but that said, it proved unfortunately more to be a case of satisfying my curiosity than actually enjoying it.  As freckles has said, the songs weren't particularly memorable and I also found the plot, such as it was, hard to follow.  I've seen fringe musicals which were far better in both respects, for instance, After The Turn.  However, the cast certainly put their hearts into it, it was a full house, and the young audience seemed enthusiastic enough, so what with the short run and word of mouth, the critical reaction may not matter.

#32 craftymiss

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:37 AM

Reading some comments about the show (on other sites too) there appears to be a general confusion as to what is going on. I have to admit it took a while for me to get into the swing of what was happening and I think a synopsis in the program would have helped, but on reflection this is my view based on what I've seen and comments made by others, so hope it helps. Please don't read if you haven't seen it as there are spoilers (I'm sorry I don't know how to hide my comments):

Gabriel is a busker, who walked out of his life a year ago to busk and write songs. In that year he has grown apart from his wife, Sarah, and fallen for a stranger he sees every day (the secretary) but all he knows about her is that her name begins with ‘K’.

He’s been writing songs and making up stories about various faces he sees regularly and trying to build up the courage to speak to the secretary. This is pretty much what happens in the first half, we see the characters and how he’s grafted songs and stories onto them, making assumptions about their lives etc . This is why I think they don’t have names, just labels he’s given them, and also why he’s watching them and playing along as they sing his/their songs.
He found a letter from Sarah saying she’s been offered a place in Chicago by a conductor; Stephenson, and she’s going to take it. They’re no longer a couple and she’s leaving him so it’s a goodbye letter. Also the lift is filled with the strangers he’s been making up stories about and the woman he thinks he loves but can’t speak to.  He’s got the letter and he is emotional as they all stand there for another silent minute on another busy morning. Now, together for the first time, his characters start to interact, they start to take on his problems and turn them back on him. Now everyone has a Sarah, an unrequited love, a Gabriel, a name that begins with ‘K’ and a huge problem hanging over them from something they did a year ago. Their stories are overlapping and intertwining.
Nobody is willing to ‘say how they feel’ and the elements of his life, this letter, bounce back at him through the characters’ lives and problems. Lines are repeated with different context and songs are reprised through different voices. They’re out of his control now and forming the voice of his conscience, until they urge him to finally speak to the women he loves who is standing right next to him.  In his imagination he takes her out of the lift for the first time and to the ‘top of the city’ where he pours out his heart and feels free at last.
Alas, it’s just another dream and the lift has arrived. The truth is that we never say how we feel and nobody speaks to strangers in a lift so we see the real minute, a series of silent moments that could, if any one of them just broke the silence, change their lives but they don’t. The tiny moments pass, unnoticed, like all the others. In spite of his sadness he manages to overhear the name ‘Kate’. Her name is his final lyric and he can finish his song at least.
He leaves us with this and returns to start another minute, back at the beginning, while the real people, strangers still, go out of his head, out of this lift and out of his life… for another day.

I readily admit that I've had to perhaps 'fill in' the gaps for it to appear clearer.  I think once you realise the significance of the letter and the fact that it's about how all these people in the lift impact on Gabriel's life through his writing, it becomes easier to understand. Maybe this takes a little while to realise as it isn't instant from the start.  I intend to return to see if my interpretation is actually correct.  I'd be interested to know others views

#33 cat123

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 11:02 AM

That really helped, thanks. I was very confused when I saw it yesterday but I put that down to my tiredness! You're right, some kind of explanation or synopsis in the programme would have helped a lot.

Julie Atherton is wonderful. She steals the show. I loved Robbie & Ellie too, even though they didn't have a lot to do.

#34 freckles

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 11:28 AM

View Postcraftymiss, on 04 February 2013 - 10:37 AM, said:

Reading some comments about the show (on other sites too) there appears to be a general confusion as to what is going on. I have to admit it took a while for me to get into the swing of what was happening and I think a synopsis in the program would have helped, but on reflection this is my view based on what I've seen and comments made by others, so hope it helps. Please don't read if you haven't seen it as there are spoilers (I'm sorry I don't know how to hide my comments):

Gabriel is a busker, who walked out of his life a year ago to busk and write songs. In that year he has grown apart from his wife, Sarah, and fallen for a stranger he sees every day (the secretary) but all he knows about her is that her name begins with ‘K’.

He’s been writing songs and making up stories about various faces he sees regularly and trying to build up the courage to speak to the secretary. This is pretty much what happens in the first half, we see the characters and how he’s grafted songs and stories onto them, making assumptions about their lives etc . This is why I think they don’t have names, just labels he’s given them, and also why he’s watching them and playing along as they sing his/their songs.
He found a letter from Sarah saying she’s been offered a place in Chicago by a conductor; Stephenson, and she’s going to take it. They’re no longer a couple and she’s leaving him so it’s a goodbye letter. Also the lift is filled with the strangers he’s been making up stories about and the woman he thinks he loves but can’t speak to.  He’s got the letter and he is emotional as they all stand there for another silent minute on another busy morning. Now, together for the first time, his characters start to interact, they start to take on his problems and turn them back on him. Now everyone has a Sarah, an unrequited love, a Gabriel, a name that begins with ‘K’ and a huge problem hanging over them from something they did a year ago. Their stories are overlapping and intertwining.
Nobody is willing to ‘say how they feel’ and the elements of his life, this letter, bounce back at him through the characters’ lives and problems. Lines are repeated with different context and songs are reprised through different voices. They’re out of his control now and forming the voice of his conscience, until they urge him to finally speak to the women he loves who is standing right next to him.  In his imagination he takes her out of the lift for the first time and to the ‘top of the city’ where he pours out his heart and feels free at last.
Alas, it’s just another dream and the lift has arrived. The truth is that we never say how we feel and nobody speaks to strangers in a lift so we see the real minute, a series of silent moments that could, if any one of them just broke the silence, change their lives but they don’t. The tiny moments pass, unnoticed, like all the others. In spite of his sadness he manages to overhear the name ‘Kate’. Her name is his final lyric and he can finish his song at least.
He leaves us with this and returns to start another minute, back at the beginning, while the real people, strangers still, go out of his head, out of this lift and out of his life… for another day.

I readily admit that I've had to perhaps 'fill in' the gaps for it to appear clearer.  I think once you realise the significance of the letter and the fact that it's about how all these people in the lift impact on Gabriel's life through his writing, it becomes easier to understand. Maybe this takes a little while to realise as it isn't instant from the start.  I intend to return to see if my interpretation is actually correct.  I'd be interested to know others views

Goodness me, I didn't get all that! I took a lot of it more literally, but will admit I found it hard to follow in places.

And wasn't Gabriel/Angel the name of the male ballet dancer, rather than the busker?!

#35 fringefan

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 12:45 PM

I'm impressed, craftymiss, but have absolutely NO idea how you worked out any of the above - I didn't even notice the letter you mention and which sounds so significant.  Not making excuses for myself but I do think it should be possible to get some idea of the plot simply from watching and listening to a musical!

#36 craftymiss

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:25 PM

View Postfreckles, on 04 February 2013 - 11:28 AM, said:

Goodness me, I didn't get all that! I took a lot of it more literally, but will admit I found it hard to follow in places.

And wasn't Gabriel/Angel the name of the male ballet dancer, rather than the busker?!

No the ballet dancer (Jonny Fines) was just a ballet dancer, Gabriel was the busker. Oh that's how I interpreted it, but it's my interpretation obviously

View Postfringefan, on 04 February 2013 - 12:45 PM, said:

I'm impressed, craftymiss, but have absolutely NO idea how you worked out any of the above - I didn't even notice the letter you mention and which sounds so significant.  Not making excuses for myself but I do think it should be possible to get some idea of the plot simply from watching and listening to a musical!

I agree you should be able to work things out just by listening/watching. In fairness I did a bit of research before and also after seeing the show, which put a few things into context.  The letter was on yellow paper and was passed around between the characters

#37 freckles

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:42 PM

View Postfreckles, on 04 February 2013 - 11:28 AM, said:

And wasn't Gabriel/Angel the name of the male ballet dancer, rather than the busker?!

View Postcraftymiss, on 04 February 2013 - 02:25 PM, said:

No the ballet dancer (Jonny Fines) was just a ballet dancer, Gabriel was the busker. Oh that's how I interpreted it, but it's my interpretation obviously

I'm sorry, but I'm sure you've got that wrong. Wasn't the point that he was called Angel in London, where he was openly gay, but Gabriel back home where he acted straight? And so 'Angel Gabriel'! (that bit made sense & worked for me.) I don't remember the busker having a name.

It was complex and I don't pretend to have understood all of it - couldn't hear it all clearly for a start- but while your theory is interesting, I believe you have overthought it. All of the characters were on stage throughout observing each other, not just the busker.

#38 thatgirlsophie

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 04:13 PM

I've not yet seen this production, but I believe that through the whole development of the show, from the early days, the Busker has always been known simply as 'the Busker'

#39 ian watson

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:55 PM

Hi. Craftymiss is right in most of what she says. We've made this show about connections and communication but layered over a central story. The names aren't important but the themes and connections are. Most of all we want discussion like this. So many people seem to think that depth stops as soon as music is involved and that musicals have to be shallow and obvious whereas plays can be conceptual and intelligent. New MT can be deep and layered and thought provoking and we've really put so much into this that we believe it gets better the deeper you look. The story is all there but that's just part of it. It has been written with every single line and lyric and melody where it is for, usually, several reasons so people can have different opinions but should all, given enough consideration and attention, leave with the same experience. I promise you the more you look and listen the more you'll see in it.

#40 freckles

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:24 PM

That's really interesting Ian, but even giving it consideration & attention, it is difficult to follow & I'm not sure your audience should have to work so very hard to get everything out of the piece. It is certainly thought provoking though & has got us talking. Have you been giving craftymiss clues...?! Nobody else I know who watched the show so far has interpreted it quite like (s)he has.





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