Just as the resurgence of reanimation technology brings New Albion to its knees, this production meets its downfall as a recorded soundtrack drowns out some promising but ultimately weak vocals.
This "steampunk opera" has the trappings of a musical in terms of its look, right down to the be-goggled crazed scientists who populate the McAllister lineage across four acts. There are projection issues: without any singers mic-ed up, vocals and lyrics are lost completely for large portions of the performance. The show is presented in the round and as soon as narrator Johanna Spencer enters it’s clear that half of Paul Shapera’s wit will be lost in the delivery once the performers have their backs turned to the audience. In the third act entire songs are basically inaudible.
Mairi Cross has choreographed chorus sequences but they’re few and far between: their appearances inject well-needed energy and volume into an otherwise limp performance. This isn’t always the case: Gordon Horne and Emma Hunter play spurned Edgar and his reluctant bride Faye with plenty of scorn, fire and desired projection. Theirs is a compelling plotline alongside the more disappointing ensemble, who can carry a tune but oftentimes not the weight of emotion needed with it.
It’s such a shame that against Shapera’s lively score—cogs whir, machines creak under the weight of the city—this production feels so very static.