One-woman musical London-Paris-ROAM! is most notable for a lack of ambition and tired stereotypes.
Written by and starring Sarah Tullamore, London-Paris-ROAM! is a one-woman musical exploring the globetrotting lifestyle of a ‘woman of a certain age’, as she reaches certain (fairly predictable) conclusions about her identity.
The show gets off to a rocky start with a ‘flashy show number’, during which it seems like Tullamore is afraid of opening out, both vocally and in terms of her performance in the small space. This inhibition haunts the performance, which is a shame given the kind of energy a one-person show requires to be successful. It’s only when we get to the more intimate and touching moments, about two thirds of the way through, that her vocal capability is shown off and we see a glimmer of emotional truth.
This production sets itself up as a personal journey; therefore, one would expect some insight into the identity of the character. Yet it feels so impersonal, so closely scripted, that there is no nuance, no exposition of real vulnerability or individual quirkiness. When we explore the trope of the middle aged woman as being stigmatised by society, let’s please give her some depth! By simply playing on outdated stereotypes, the show paradoxically contributes to this problem, rather than addressing or undermining it.
It is, in fact, a performance littered with stereotypes: the French are rude and the Italians love food. Whilst very little of the show stood out as actively objectionable, I felt like I’d seen it all before, except better. James Burns’ score feels equally tired; it’s an obvious attempt to parody the traditional musical theatre repertoire but without any sense of bringing something new to the table.
I have seen shows which have featured objectively poorer writing, music and performance skill than London-Paris-ROAM! However, in most cases, I’ve seen sparks of promise that have maybe been misjudged or not fully realised. The biggest problem with the production is that it features no ambition – and certainly no surprises – whatsoever.