Superb vocals and an engaging pop/rock score are the features of The Gathering, a mystery involving a young man who is seemingly forever on the run.
His name is Tom (Joel Granger) and one day five years ago, he left behind his foster sister Kelly (Shannen Alyce Quan) and their parents and just walked away … never came back. In fact, they haven’t heard from him since … until now, when he has invited Kelly to a housewarming. But she isn’t the only one he’s reached out to after all this time for a select reunion. There’s his old band mate, Joe (Daniel Cosgrove), and the girlfriend who just broke up with Joe, Daisy (Hannah Sullivan McInerny), along with Mia (Olivia Charalambous), his high school crush. And much to Tom’s chagrin, Kelly has asked a good mate of hers, Luke (Daniel Asseta), to join the party. Soon after they arrive, once Tom has encouraged them to move in and share his dilapidated lodgings, he is on edge.
The tension is palpable and disconcerting. Tom is reluctant to give details of where he has spent the past few years and what he has done. When anybody tries to press him, he pushes them away. Tom is hiding a secret that has plagued him and continues to do so. He is also seeing and hearing things in the house that appears to be haunted and he certainly doesn’t want the others to look around, especially not in the attic. And then there’s a subplot involving the break-up between Joe and Daisy, which Joe struggles to make sense of.
Five years in the making, it was 2011 when Will Hannagan and Belinda Jenkin decided they wanted to write a musical for and about their contemporaries, Generation Y. The subject on show became love – how we express it and how we find a way to let people in? I enjoyed the subterfuge and the nature of proceedings, being a slow reveal. The Gathering draws us in, teases us and encourages us to stay with it.
The plot unfolds through a combination of dialogue and song, so it is important not to just let the lyrics wash over you, rather to concentrate on what is being said. From the opening chorus number, it is crystal clear that the talent on display here is something very special. The young people selected for their respective roles have a rich, clear and enviable sound, accompanied by an outstanding five-piece band, under the musical direction of Daniel Puckey. The stage area is strewn with items from a bygone era – a worn, light brown armchair and round, pedestal-based wooden table with three chairs, old suitcases and cardboard storage boxes – befitting the environment which Tom now calls home.
Directed by Chris Parker, with a running time of 1 hour 15 minutes without interval, The Gathering’s greatest strength lies in its 13 striking musical numbers – from soulful to dynamic, full voiced harmonies. It is playing at fortyfivedownstairs (45 Flinders Lane) until 11th December.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television