The dedicated cleaner believes that music and song can overcome the problems of the four troubled souls who make their way to the top of the tower – which, by the way, is mid-way through being demolished. Sadly, the four, who turn out to be a family, are not so sure and are struggling with their lives, all profoundly affected by a cycle of debt and destruction.
Mum’s business collapses and she fakes her own death. Dad plunges her life insurance money into sailing and rum, before having a sex change – apparently a legal loop hole allowing him to leave his financial failings behind. Harriet, and her sister, Rita, end up in a children’s home, but escape to live on the ‘dark streets of Oxford’. In turn, both rack up debts – Rita through Internet gambling and Harriet by borrowing money from a local loan shark.
Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come. Rita, riddled with gambling debt is forced by the local shark to turn debt collector – against her own sister. Broke Harriet begs her sister for mercy, but to no avail as Rita sets a pit-bull terrier on her, ravaging her face and body. All four-troubled family members are reunited on top of Long Tall Sally, but can Vera’s attempt to keep love alive through music ultimately succeed?
Starting near the end of the story, then jumping back to the beginning, the play was a little confusing until you grasped the timeline and understood that the play was a story within a story. Vera and her rehearsing ‘band’ – a violinist, a bassist, an accordion player and a clarinettist / saxophonist depict each family member – telling their story through music and song.
The cast were good musicians as well as actors and it was refreshing to see instruments played on stage. Their singing was fantastic, with rich harmonies and real emotion in every number, really adding to the story and meaning behind each song.
An exceptionally clever, well written and presented production that managed to balance the serious and hard-hitting story with some much needed light-hearted and humorous moments. You’re guaranteed to leave the show with your mind reeling - really thinking about the consequences of debt.