Mark Campbell’s Songs from an Unmade Bed opened Off-Broadway in 2005. It is exactly what it says: songs sung from and around an unmade bed, by a gay New Yorker; or is it several different gay New Yorkers? – this is not abundantly clear. The show is described as “part cabaret, part theatre,” and part song cycle – it is all song cycle, quite a bit of theatre, and hardly any cabaret.
All the lyrics were written by Campbell but with 18 composers. Although written by a large number of composers, the music itself has the modern Broadway feel of the likes of Pasek and Paul, John Bucchino and Jason Robert Brown. It is Campbell’s witty, bitterly humorous, and sometimes beautifully moving lyrics that impress; such songs as “Sex With An Actor” (self explanatory) and “The Other Other Woman” (about a love triangle that is really a square) are hilarious; while “A Dinner Party” and “I Miss New York” let one soak in the poignancy that can occur with relationships. There are a couple of numbers toward the end of the production that could be cut due to the fact that they seem unnecessary – especially “To Sing”.
One of the things that is impressive about this production is Australian musical theatre performer, Michael Lindner (South Pacific, Mary Poppins, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical) as the unnamed character. He bounds around the small stage lithely, singing with strength and clarity and acting with panache.
The other impressive factors are the musical direction of Geoffrey Castles, whom one assumes is the pianist, and the talents of the cellist and percussionist (whose names are uncredited). The female cellist features hilariously in the number “He Plays The Cello” – it’s not easy to play so wonderfully badly, when one is so talented; while the extremely busy male percussionist doubles as an actor in a lovely little cameo toward the end.
Songs from an Unmade Bed is a good, solid show, and while possibly not one of the highlights of this year’s Cabaret Festival, it is enjoyable enough for the more broad-minded of us.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 14 – 16 June 2013
Duration: 1hr 10mins
Tickets: $24.90 – $34.90
Bookings: Book at BASS