No Limits – A Song Cycle ★★★★

No Limits depicts the anxieties, challenges, and love that we all experience – in one apartment, but set across different moments in time!

No Limits is a song cycle by Sam Thomas and directed by Dean Johnson which follows a variety of characters as they dare to believe in themselves and strive for a better tomorrow. Featuring stories of the heartfelt, queer and even kinky kind, it highlights that with enough self-belief, we can always overcome anything.

The show is set in a single apartment in which all five of our characters live, but not at the same time. Johnson’s ingenious direction sees the inhabitants interact with the same items and furniture, often at the same time, but never with each other. A brave choice which is perfectly executed by its hard-working cast.

Images by Danny Kaan

After the opening group number, we meet Owen Clayton playing the first of their #ROMANTIC characters, and we are immediately struck by their natural ability to tell stories and act through song. ‘Surely that ability is a given from a musical theatre actor?’ I hear you say. If only! But he has it, in spade loads, and tops it all off with charm and great comic timing. Owen is one to watch! 

Hannah Lowther #CATFISH leaves few high-range musical notes unsung, but at times the characters she plays needed more than just the technical ability to sing what is written on the score and we were left wanting more depth to her acting. Her casting age also did not exactly align with the life experiences she was portraying. Her characterisation however was strong throughout, especially playing the online dating catfish, and she successfully hit every comedic moment required of her.

Whilst there are some really fantastic musical moments in this show, not every song is top drawer and the main victims of this were Mary Moore #FUNEMPLOYED and Michael Mather #FIGHTER, who were often just having to do their best with what they had been given musically. Both are clearly accomplished vocalists but Moore possibly doesn’t get to show what she truly has to give. Mather has a little more to work with and delivers this with a legit pop/rock sound that could see him easily playing any number of leading men in the future.

The star of the show though is undoubtedly Natalie May Paris, as aside from her well-recognised vocal ability (as in, one of the best voices out there), she is an actress in every sense of the word. The maturity and grounded approach to Paris’s performances made them heart wrenching and utterly believable. Her song Every Girl Needs A Mother is a real standout.

Sam Thomas has written a really wonderful piece of musical theatre here but it certainly does have some limits. One or two songs bring little to the show and could be left out altogether, and greater clarity in the delivery of his well-penned lyrics will make a huge difference.

Dean Johnson has created some superb moments which lift this song cycle and make it incredibly enjoyable to watch. He clearly benefits from having an incredibly creative mind and the level of detail that he added to this piece was appreciated by the audience. Lastly, we must add that the show is perfectly lit, a rarity in most off-West End shows it’s fair to say, but Alex Musgrave’s stunning lighting design is everything you could ask for.

All-in-all we really enjoyed the show, and a 60-minute slimmed-down version of the strongest and best bits could make No Limits – A Song Cycle quite the hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond!

No Limits is a beautiful piece of theatre which is brilliantly directed and full of talent – ★★★★

No Limits

No Limits is running at Turbine Theatre until Sunday 26th February 2023

Tickets are £29.50

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