Review: Bare (The Musical)

February 23, 2015 in General

bare1I laughed, shifted uncomfortably in my seat, and maybe even cried a little.

Bare is a rollicking coming of age musical that tells the story of five teenagers at a Catholic boarding school. It tackles a number of deep social issues head on, including sexual identity, drug abuse, suicide, bullying, and the effects of social media. I raised my eyebrows more than once.

Several aspects resonated with me particularly. The young teen torn between his religion and his sexuality, and the refusal by his family to acknowledge their son was different. Also the horror of having to seek advice from a priest on something that you know will never be approved by the church.

John Burrows and Hamish Mouat as Jason and Peter. (Twitter/Hamish Mouat)

John Burrows and Hamish Mouat as Jason and Peter. (Twitter/Hamish Mouat)

The singing and acting was superb. It was easy to become immersed in the romance between Jason and Peter (John Burrows and Hamish Mouat), and I particularly enjoyed Angela Mason’s performance as Nadia, Jason’s sassy yet troubled sister. My only observation was that John Burrows at times appeared to be singing a little flat. I didn’t particularly mind, as it added to the believability of his all-star jock character, but it jarred when accompanied by another singer.

Both acts began with dream sequences, which I found a confusing until I realised what was happening. I would’ve appreciated a bit more set-up, particularly at the very beginning. Overall though the plot was easy to follow, and the narrative built to a satisfactory climax.

Until around halfway through the second act, I was confident I knew how Bare was going to end – a heart-warming, reassuring story about two gay boys who despite set-backs manage to win through, and a reminder that love always conquers. But that’s not Bare. I was surprised and confronted by the ending, and it made an impact on both my friends and me – we were still talking about it hours later.

Bare doesn’t leave the audience with any answers. Sometimes life isn’t fair, and sometimes there isn’t a solution. Bare doesn’t attempt a moral narrative; rather it sets things out and leaves people to make up their own minds. It makes for compelling viewing.

Bare runs until Saturday, 28th of February, at the Westpoint Performing Arts Centre.