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Review: Help! We Are Still Alive (Seven Dials Playhouse)

Review by Daz Gale


There's nothing like a bit of theatre to provide some much needed escapism. And what is a more carefree subject to take your mind off of the everyday problems of the world than... erm... the apocalypse. That's the subject of new musical Help! We Are Still Alive which has currently bedded in to the still relatively new space Seven Dials Playhouse.



The premise of Help! We Are Still Alive sees lovers Jass and Finn survive the apocalypse. The only problem is, despite the fact they are (presumably) the last two people alive on the planet, they are on completely different pages, with the world ending on the day Finn planned to propose and Jass planned to break up with him. Slightly awkward. The 80 minute musical sees the pair try to survive, not just the end of the world, but their relationship.

Elijah Ferreira gives a beautiful performance as the sweet natured Finn. Perfectly encapsulating his innocence and slightly timid nature, he is captivating to watch, none more so than when he is playing his guitar and showcasing gorgeous musical talent. His counterpart Jass is far more brash in her approach to things. Jade Johnson is great tapping in to the complications of the character, who in other hands, may appear completely unlikeable. Instead, she allows us to sympathise with the difficulty of their situation. Together, the pair have great chemistry, ensuring interest is kept consistently throughout.





Directed by Georgie Rankcom, who was responsible for the fantastic revival of Anyone Can Whistle earlier this year, the relatively small space is effortlessly transformed as they travel from location to location… usually supermarkets. Set design from Lu Herbert transforms the Seven Dials Playhouse into the post apocalyptic landscape, with an interesting choice of props and the striking title adorning the walls. Not all elements work, however. The constant raining of green confetti to represent ‘Bedminster ASDA’ feels a bit too tacky given the theme of the show.


The writing by Imogen Palmer is one of the strongest elements to the show. Taking an interesting theme that is not easy to play out on stage, she delivers a great narrative structure, starting at the mid-point before going back to the events leading up to that moment in a clever and satisfying way. Once we know the events leading up to the end of the world, the narrative takes a slight dip. Though it is deliberately vague, a bit more character exposition or details about the circumstances surrounding them would only have benefited the story more.



The songs in Help! We Are Still Alive! varies from quieter numbers performed by Finn and his guitar, to full band numbers played through the theatre. With music and lyrics from Tim Gilvin (and lyrics from Imogen Palmer), they are slightly inconsistent in quality. Finn’s charming ‘The Pineapple Song’ is one of the best pineapple related songs in musical theatre, after Cabaret, of course, though is perhaps reprised one too many times. Moments such as ‘Our World’ and ‘The Letter’ are pleasant highlights, while the aforementioned ‘Bedminster ASDA’ feels slightly misjudged (I promise I have nothing against ASDA. They are one of my top 5 major supermarkets). The musical highlight is the gorgeous ‘That Wasn’t It’ which sees Jass recall what made her fall for Finn, proving when the music in this show is good, it can be pretty brilliant.


The themes of climate change and the devastating effect this could have in the world gives Help! We Are Still Alive a sense of urgency that stops this setting feeling as far-fetched as perhaps it should. An unashamedly Queer musical, what is refreshing in its approach is how the fact our two leads are Queer is secondary in nature to the events. While it is alluded to, references to their gender identities are merely touched upon, though one moment does see Finn mention how the apocalypse has meant better trans healthcare for him.



Ultimately, Help! We Are Still Alive is a pleasant musical albeit a bit inconsistent. It does feel unfinished in certain places and like more work needs to be done to give it the gravitas it truly deserves. With fantastic performances from two utterly charismatic leads and a smattering of great musical numbers, it really does have a lot of potential. When it is good, it’s really good. It just needs a bit more fine-tuning. It might need some help to get there but it really isn’t the end of the world.


★★★


Help! We Are Still Alive! plays at the Seven Dials Playhouse until October 15th. Tickets from https://www.sevendialsplayhouse.co.uk/


Photos by Danny Kaan

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