"A somewhat confusing spectacle"
-The Upcoming-

-The Evening Standard-

"Photography-themed Faustus loses focus"
-The Guardian-

Sorry, Exposure - The Musical closed on 27 Aug 2016

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Back to the darkroom with this one

Critic Rating

28 July 2016, The Other Palace
Guest Reviewer Guest Reviewer
What lengths would you go to to get the perfect photograph? What or who would you sacrifice when art battles commerce? Exposure the Musical looks at the dilemmas facing Jimmy, a budding young photo-journalist who gets sucked into the easy money and sleazy glamour of the paparazzi world when a strange commission challenges him to capture images of the seven deadly sins on the streets of London.

At least, that’s what I think Exposure the Musical is about. Mike Dyer’s book also throws in an examination of contemporary celebrity culture as seen through the experience of Jimmy’s schoolfriend Jan who has since become a hot mess of a singer called Pandora – a would-be rocker being moulded against her will into a popstar and consequently spiralling out of control with drink, drugs and a demonic manager called Miles. Oh, and Jimmy’s dead father appears as a ghost throughout.

First appearing in his boxer shorts – they know what they are doing… - David Albury’s Jimmy is thus presented with the choice of looking after his own interests or those of the people around him, including a scarcely credible manic pixie dream girl of the homeless variety played by Natalie Anderson. This choice presented by Miles that is increasingly Machiavellian as Michael Greco’s devilish smile and sculpted abs are revealed – again people, they’re playing to their strengths – who knew the devil works in PR.

Exposure takes a long time to get to this point though, Dyer’s narrative easily distracted by the insertion of musical numbers that do little to advance the plot. An early number ‘Eyes of the World’ is bafflingly set in their schooldays, allowing for eye-popping breakdance choreography from Lindon Barr but adding little of substance; the strutting ‘Access All Area/Snap It’ equally focuses too much on the visual of the paparazzi at work rather than moving the story along; the same with the random contemporary dancers who appear during a number sung on the streets.

Matters aren’t helped by a rather anonymous score from Dyer with contributions from no less than 12 other co-writers, perhaps indicative of why no real cohesion emerges from the music. Instead, there’s a collection of anodyne pop/rock songs that don’t go far enough in exposing the emotions they’re aiming for- the devil normally gets the best songs but not so here, Anderson’s attractive voice is lumbered with a sub-Corrs number because her character is Irish, only Niamh Perry comes close to transcending the material to mine the desperation at Pandora’s heart.

Phil Willmott’s production relies heavily on Timothy Bird’s set design with all its projection work, a choice which works effectively in its more abstract moments – production partners Getty Images contributing an array of iconic pictures – less so when it is trying to be literal as in the recording studio scene. Crucially though, big story moments are fudged out of focus and unlike the photos, character development is minimal – back to the darkroom with this one.

Review by Ian Foster

The Upcoming
A somewhat confusing spectacle played out by a talented ensemble against a visually striking photographic backdrop, Ensemble – The Musical manages to say everything yet land very little, remaining sadly one-dimensional with an arguably ironic lack of focus
Henry Hitchings
More than a decade in development, Mike Dyer’s new musical is bizarrely unfocused — ironic given its interest in photography.
Michael Billington
The Faust legend has inspired a slew of musicals from The Black Crook (1866) to Damn Yankees (1955). It also lies behind this new piece for which Mike Dyer has written the book, music and lyrics. But while Dyer can certainly turn his hand to a song, his libretto doesn’t add up.
Dominic Cavendish
Now comes this fresh hell, a bewilderingly bad new musical by Mike Dyer that loosely transposes the Faustian myth to modern London with Faustus cast as a talented photojournalist called Jimmy Tucker.
Mark Shenton
This modern pop musical about photographers is in no way ready for its close-up