Pieces of String at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester: Press Night review by Stephen Vowles

The book for Pieces of String is stunning. I have not heard in many a moon such substance and quality to songs acting as complete and beautiful drivers of the narrative. Pieces of String’s writer and composer Gus Gowland is an accomplished, confident and competent tunesmith, lyricist and creator of magical words. The story, told with great imagination, is about two timelines: a young soldier and his wife prior to him going off to fight in World War 2, and his daughter many years later having to clear out the same house after attending his funeral. 

A secret is at the heart of this very moving and emotionally charged story. From a sombre start to later joyous moments this musical is simply wonderful. Made so by a cast that as an ensemble are firing on all cylinders. The whole thing bounces along where clever lighting cues add to the splendour of the show. Issues of sexual acceptance are examined with great skill and flair by director Ryan McBryde who has such a controlled grasp of the material, the inevitable happens,  and there is not a dry eye in the house.

The men in this – Andy Coxon as Ed, Joel Harper-Jackson as Tom, mesmerising Craig Mather as Edward and finally Gary Wood as Harry – are magnificent where perfect blending of their tenor voices is just immaculate. The ladies – Marilyn Cutts as Rose, Ella Dunlop as Gemma, a sensational Lauren Hall as Anna and Carol Starks as Jane – are equally strong vocally and as the musical comes to its end the level of perfection displayed by the whole cast is spine-tingling. An incredible night of class where a secret love is revealed in the most romantic way. Go see Pieces of String and discover for yourself a formidable and magical musical experience. Theatrical excellence worthy of a West End transfer.

Photos by Robert Workman.


Pieces of String runs to Saturday 5th May at the Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate, Colchester, Essex CO1 1PT. Tickets from the box office on 01206 573948.

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