Exposure, a new British musical currently playing at St James’ Theatre, tells the story of a photographer, Jimmy Tucker, who is following in the footsteps of his dead father. He meets Miles Mason who commissions him to shoot the seven deadly sins in London. This is complicated by his childhood friend, Pandora, now a pop star and a homeless girl Tara pulling him in different directions.
The show's strength is its visual impact. Upon entering the auditorium there is a blinking eye staring back at you from a screen on stage, indicating what is to come, that in London, immersed in the cult of celebrity, their every move being watched. These screens are effectively used throughout the show for everything from setting the scene to projecting a series of iconic images. As well as providing a visual feast this helps cement the ideas behind the show.
It's a show, however, that needs much work. Dialogue and lyrics are clunky, and all too often clumsily (neon) signposting the feelings of various characters - which only succeeds in belittling the audience. Declarations of love, within a day of meeting, feels disingenuous especially when the audience are already realising that Jimmy and Tara are falling for each other.
Parts of the show are surreal to say the least. From In Through the Outdoor and the 7even Deadly Sins sequence, style (and volume) seems to matter more than substance. This section does little to further the plot and, whilst visually interesting, needs to be more considered especially with the ultimate revelation almost being lost in so much surrealism.
The story and concept is an interesting and insightful one, and certainly different to anything else currently playing the West End. With a heavy re-work by a good dramaturgy on the dialogue/lyrics it could undoubtedly be enhanced.
Generally the cast are strong, with the ensemble bringing the stage to life on every appearance. Numbers such as Eyes of the World, a street dance routine, tending to be occasions when the show really threatens to take off. The combination of talented dancers and Lindon Barr's exciting and varied choreography ensures that each ensemble piece is high octane and original.
Jimmy, Pandora and Tara are all played well enough. Niamh Perry's Pandora is every inch the pop star and her final scene into decline is one of the most touching moments of the show. David Albury (Jimmy) and Natalie Anderson (Tara) possess some good on-stage chemistry, their voices complementing each other nicely, demonstrated none more so than in Love Comes Knocking (Reprise).
Michael Greco plays Miles Mason with such a thick - what I assume is meant to be Machiavellian - accent, I had trouble understanding him. I lost much of his dialogue and probably 90% of the lyrics in his number Miles Mason.
Whilst Exposure sounds intriguing enough, and in theory great on paper, this production needs a lot of work to live up to its potential.