Catfish in Concert – Review

Catfish in Concert (online)

31st October 2020

Catfish the Musical is a new show about two strangers on the internet, conceived entirely by two strangers over the internet. This one-act show takes a new look at social media and dating. When Jackson realises that Jessica believes he is a girl, a mistake he has made on his dating profile, he has the chance to clear up this honest mistake or play a game…

Catfish the Musical, created by Willy Mukendi and Joseph Purdue, who incidentally are also two strangers who met over the internet, have worked tirelessly to write this brand new show. Unfortunately, this highly anticipated musical, which was meant to have an initial workshop at the Turbine Theatre back in April, has been struck with the covid curse. But the shows producers did not let that hinder them. Instead they continued to release a concept album and perform for one night to a socially distanced audience outdoors at the Turbine on the Jetty. Due to the current pandemic most rehearsals took place independently to comply with regulations. This online concert version of the show has just three performances but hopes to impress audiences.

The young cast are an excellent choice and it is good to see a diverse range of performers onstage. Harry Simpson impresses as Jackson. He is able to demonstrate good character progression throughout the show and his vocals match his character brilliantly. During the song ‘Dating Profile‘ the storytelling is excellent and Simpson’s vocals display just the right amount of emotion and power. Georgia Jade’s performance of ‘Low Battery‘ is very moving. She is able to show a vulnerability and yet self-acceptance and confidence at the same time. Jackson’s love interest, Jessica, is confident and strong-willed, played effectively by Emily Badger.

The central issue of social media and the way we use it to compare each other and create a ‘social media face’ is portrayed well throughout the show. The lyrics are very clever in highlighting the issues of the over-use and over-reliance on social media. However, the show tries to tackle a lot of issues in a very short amount of time which means that some feel slightly thrown in and skimmed over. Perhaps focusing on just one or two key themes would enable them to be tackled in more depth.

The songs, written by Willy Mukendi and Joseph Purdue, are a good mix of ballads, witty upbeat songs, duets and ensemble numbers. There are some fantastic songs throughout the show including ‘Butterflies‘, a gorgeous song with lovely harmonies. Within this song the performers voices are perfectly matched and compliment each other. Another moving song is ‘The Other Side‘ where Jackie Pulford gives an exemplar performance. The songs are modern and the lyrics are cleverly written, particularly aimed at younger audience members.

Catfish is a fantastic concept and has the makings of a hit show. Not only does it tackle current issues but its varied score and diverse characters are sure to be a hit with young theatre goers. This particular performance was a filmed concert version of the show and as a result a lot of scenes, dialogue and story have been cut. This does make it harder to connect with the characters and understand their relationships but given more time and a clearer focus Catfish could certainly do well. Willy Mukendi and Joseph Purdue have certainly shown that you do not need to have a multi-million pound production team as long as you have passion, drive and talent. These are definitely two names to look out for in the future.

Catfish the Musical is available to stream for two performances on the 1st November. A portion of each ticket price will be donated to Industry Minds, with booking available now via the stream.theatre site.

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