The Song Project Review

'The Song Project' co-created by Chole Lamford, Wende & Isobel Waller-Bridge

Royal Court Theatre: 17th-28th of August

Review by Ben Quashie

Runaway (ft. Pusha T) - Kanye West

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I’ve opened with this song because I have to highlight that this show is a cultural phenomenon!

A. Cultural. Phenomenon.

I’ve never heard of or seen anything like it before & I don’t think I ever will again. It’s not quite a play, not quite a gig, not really gig theatre, not really a musical… It’s like concept creators Chloe Lamford & Wende, much like Kanye, have taken all those traditional forms & expectations, thrown them in the blender and created a performance fantastically unique and artistically unrivalled! A must watch for anyone who enjoys live music or easy-watch formally-diverse theatre.


Last 100 - Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes

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Debbie Duru’s design submerges you in the intimacy of being in your friend's living room having the best jam session the planet has ever seen. Wende’s performance blended with Imogen Knight’s movement direction magnetically draws your eye across the space, opening your eyes to the fact that the room is alive & breathing. So many little elements can be found across the space, akin to the family photographs or holiday ornaments you’d find in a family home, that help the comfort set in. The shards of ribbon, the hammers tapping away in the piano, the abundance of flora, all set in a sense of familiarity & therefore trust in Wende’s storytelling, the same way nothing in this song takes you by surprise, it all comes in as expected & the multiple layers compliment each other building towards the confession Tom Misch sings about.


music to walk home to - easy life

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The core concept of the show is “what if playwrights couldn’t write plays and had to tell stories through songs”... So E.V. Crowe, Sabrina Mahfouz, Somalia Nonyé Seaton, Stef Smith and Debris Stevenson each build vastly different worlds through their lyrics all playing with light & dark, comedy, loss, rage & acceptance, with all analysing parts of human experience. With each world existing independently of each other it allows the audience to stitch together their own narrative, as if it was a musical paint-by-numbers. This approach to songwriting delivers something distinctively unique, delivering far more detail & bigger arcs than your typical chart music but also more space for silence & playfulness from Composer Isobel Waller-Bridge and above all, an active consideration & use of the audience's reception of the music & words.


Man From The Magazine - HAIM

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Wende gracefully slides between genres & emotions but maintains the raw & exposed emotions from beginning to end delivering a playful . Held up by the talents of Nils Davidse (Piano), Louise Anna Duggan (Percussion), and Midori Jaeger (Cello) who together create a monolithic example of musicianship & stage presence.

The music jumps between Soul, Acapella, Jazz, R&B, Ballads & Folk but so many of the 16 songs lie outside of any form of genre box that it simply emphasizes Wende’s magical performance - transitioning from calmly sitting down at a piano to energetically jumping on top of it and bounding round the space in a heartbeat, keeping you encapsulated throughout. For that reason, this song is the closest that matches the feeling of watching the show - if you pair it with HAIM’s “My Song 5” you get close to the experience of listening to the show too.

Honourable Mentions

My Song 5 - HAIM

Best Friend - The Staves

Careful, Kid - The Staves

She Said - Plan B

Lately - Celeste

Why Don’t You - Cleo Sol

Flaws - Daughter

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