No Limits – A Song Cycle at the Hen and Chickens

No Limits

No Limits is a brand new musical theatre song cycle by Sam Thomas, which taps in to the fears and feelings of being left behind in life. How, as a 20-something, you can’t help comparing your life to that of your friends and feeling you aren’t achieving enough.

The show opens at an engagement party, and our cast of 6 launch straight into the song that sets the theme for the show. In “Scenic Route” our 20-somethings are encouraged to take in the scenery, rather than always worrying about the destination. This 40-something reviewer heartily endorses the message of this show!

While there are a wide variety of moments captured in the different songs, they all have a sense of truth and honesty at the heart of them. Emily Carter is heartbreaking as a motherless newly pregnant woman singing ‘Every Girl Needs A Mother’. ‘Call Time’, a beautiful song about the end of a relationship, is movingly delivered by Aaron Jenson. David Gibbons convincingly rocks out in ‘Like I’m Alive’, as a young man with aspirations to be a rock star.

The all cast performed ‘Kinky’ is brilliantly funny, leading out from a group game of ‘I have never’. I’m not sure what it says about it, that this is one of my favourite songs in the show. While Keisha Mowchenko is disturbingly endearing as she sings “Confessions of a Catfish”.

The stand-out song, and performance, the one that gave me goosebumps is the show’s titular song ‘No Limits’ sung with great passion and skill by Megan Jobling. It is at this moment that I truly realised that this song cycle has all the ingredients to be developed into something bigger.

Red Jay Theatre company was founded in the Spring of this year, and their vision is to give new writers and actors the space to debut and showcase their work. Sam Thomas’ song cycle is a great place to start. He is clearly a talented songwriter, and there are songs within this cycle that have the potential to become future musical classics. In my typical approach to seeing a show (I go in knowing as little as possible, fresh brain and all that), I didn’t realise these were all brand new songs. I just assumed they were new to me, so I was really excited to discover afterwards that this is the work of a new songwriting talent.

Running at 60 minutes, there is real scope to build the piece out further, by digging into the stories of the different characters in greater depth and expanding this into a complete musical story structure. Each song gives us a glimpse into the lives of these varied characters, the next step would be to thread that further together into a longer story of personal discovery, with a clearer picture of how their lives intertwine.

The final performances of No Limits are on today (25th August) at the Hen and Chickens at 3pm and 6pm. I’d highly recommend a trip to Islington on this sunny Sunday to check this show out if you are lovers (or developers) of new musicals.

Personally I’m very excited to see what happens next with ‘No Limits’ and I can only hope the ambition is to take it and grow it into the exciting new British musical it has the potential to become.

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