"Imaginative use of immersive theatre"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 08/03/19

Sedos’ production of “The Next Thing You Know”, currently running at the Bridewell Theatre shows that spectacular set design and imaginative immersive experience, can transform a show that’s merely good show into one that’s excellent. The underlying musical, originally created by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham, is a story about three people in their thirties facing coming to terms with adulthood. Waitress Waverley (Laura Ellis) can’t decide to whether to accept a permanent job at a law firm and settle down with her boyfriend Darren (Joshua Yeardley and Luke James Leahy), or remain single and pursue a no-strings fling with Darren’s sleazy co-worker Luke. Meanwhile, Waverley’s friend Lisa (Bobbi Mair) is thinking about leaving New York for Los Angeles.

Despite the best efforts of an excellent cast, the limitations of the material means that the first half is a little flat. However, the play is given a big boost in the arm by the decision to turn the set into a real-life bar during the interval. The ability to drink beer and mingle with the cast, while listening to a jukebox blasting out 90s hits, really adds to the atmosphere. Indeed, by the time Mair comes on stage to deliver her rendition of “American Pie” in character, you can almost imagine that you were in a New Jersey dive bar, rather than in a theatre off Fleet Street.

This momentum is maintained through the second half as a series of witty numbers (most notably “Hungover”) brings the play to its conclusion. Credit must also go to the ensemble (Emma Leaver, Sarah Marks, Alex Stephenson, Lauren Clarke and Ellie Jones) as well as the set design team (Dan Saunders, Adrian Hau, Andrew Laidlaw and Olly Levett).

Overall, Sedos' production is perhaps the most imaginative use of large-scale immersive theatre to be found on the London stage at the moment.

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