Production Photo: Aimee Buckley
An energetic, intuitive explosion of chemistry through choreography and verse, the Queen's Musical Theatre Society's exuberant staging of Jonathan Larson's Rent is the quintessential tainted rainbow, typically atypical in its passionate but stained love for culture, couplings and individuals across every spectrum, gender and persuasion.
The first act, as written, is overly expository and ambitious - so many songs and plot strands are crammed in that emotional coherence in this 1990s New York is tough. But Megan White's direction is swift and innovative. She, her eight leads and ensemble of seventeen steadily weave the never-uninteresting adventures of Mark, Roger, Collins, Angel, Mimi, Benny, Joanne and Maureen into a fluid, charming tapestry.
Singing and dancing elements merge for a warm and sometimes quietly affecting whole where "La Vie Boheme" and "Seasons Of Love" shine brightest, and Shonagh Forbes is a star in the making, bringing a spellbinding vulnerability to Mimi.
At its best, even out of its original context, this Rent is a fascinating window to the maddening inconsistencies of youthful idealism. It's a romance, all right, but it's between artists, art and the resources they need to survive and create – and for that, it deserves loud applause.
Rent was staged at the Brian Friel Theatre in Belfast from February 6 to 8. For more information on the Queen's Musical Theatre Society, click here.