Mark Ludmon reviews Infinity Rep’s new musical, Geek, at C Aquila at Edinburgh Fringe
Boston’s Infinity Repertory Theatre is making its sixth visit to Edinburgh Fringe, building on its reputation for presenting new work by young people. This year’s offering is a charming and uplifting new musical, Geek, following a teenager’s journey to come to terms with what makes her different and special.
This positive message is told through a modern fable set in Hopeless Junction in the USA’s Bible Belt with a mix of magic realism and American gothic, peopled by extreme, colourful characters. It presents the tale of 16-year-old Gibby Stone whose face is shockingly transformed after her acne is treated with a quack’s concoction made with ingredients from horse urine to holy water. With the small town ruled by religion, Gibby is rejected as “the devil’s spawn” and made to wear a brown paper bag over her head until being forced out to join a travelling troupe of “freaks”.
As the title suggests, this is a story about all people who feel ostracised for being different, from “geeks” to “freaks”, and how they can find acceptance – both from other people and from themselves. It is packed with upbeat, appealing songs with strong melodies, written by composer and lyricist George Griggs, a music industry veteran who began his career performing in a rock band.
Accompanied by keyboard, guitar and percussion, the four-strong cast sing with passion and energy across multiple roles – which is particularly impressive when you learn they are aged only 17 to 18. Olivia Tebsherany stands out as Gibby with a beautiful, soulful voice, showcased by songs such as the touching “I Am the Real Girl”, “We’ve Got Life” and “That Shit’s Not Funny Anymore”. There are plenty of toe tappers, from the opening number, “Hopeless Junction Is Our Home”, through to the rousing, catchy finale of “On My Way”.
Directed by Paul Andrew Perez with music direction by Steve Loftus, the show is more of a concert production, with four microphones and minimal props and set. With its strong narrative and likeable tunes, this is a promising new work which, with a bit of money and development, could be something special.
Running to 18 August 2018