If I were to describe this musical with one word, it would be: adorable. It’s a glorious love story of two (seemingly) nicest people in the world, based during what seems to be the end of the world. I can imagine fans of “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” and “Six” will go crazy for it. I may not be the ideal target audience for the show but still had a nice evening at the Seven Dials Playhouse.
We follow two kind-hearted people: Jass and Finn as they find themselves being the only survivors of what seems like a climate change-caused catastrophe. The two are the most good-natured people you could imagine: smart, witty, well-spoken, empathetic and…vegan. They set up their new life as the only people alive, play songs, eat leftover supermarket food and even get a pet lizard. The journeys they encounter on usually involve moving from Sainsbury’s to Asda (there’s a strong supermarket theme throughout), and we just hang out with the couple through their daily activities. That is, until Jass starts insinuating she intends to break up with Finn…
Surprisingly, for an “apocalyptic” musical, there is not much tension or traumatic events. There’s a mention of a potential suicide but it’s denied and forgotten about right away. The emotions I felt while watching the production varied from “oh cute” to “aww bless his heart” but there was never any real danger presented on the stage. This production is an easy watch even on a stressful day, it’s a bit like a warm coat on a cold day.
“Help! We are still alive” makes use of simple, guitar-based melodies to explain the waves (not turbulences) of the relationship between the play’s characters. We follow the recurring theme: a song about the pineapple, as it marks 3 stages of the relationship in the story (is this a wink towards the “Cabaret” and the classic pineapple scene there?). From a dreamy, happy version of it, through a drunk, sad one and to an optimistic performance at the end.
The storytelling is a bit confusing. For some reason, the timeline goes back and forth and we revisit the same scenes a couple of times, while still seeing them from the same perspective (usually narrated by Jass).
Instead of these repetitive scenes, I would love to understand a bit more about the background of the whole situation, what happened with the world, what exactly humans did to cause the catastrophe and what the actual catastrophe was (it’s just briefly mentioned that it may be related with the fires in the area). There was a nice little opportunity for a theme of global warming threat, but unfortunately, it just didn’t happen.
The main emotional theme of the “I love you but I don’t want to be with you even though it’s the end of the world” is hinted clearly at the very beginning, and is then hammered explicitly for a long time. I would love to see this script being a bit more nuanced and delicate with hints rather than so straightforward.
What definitely happened, and was absolutely wonderful, was the proud case of representation in the show. Both Jass and Finn describe themselves as queer, with him being a trans man, mentioning (sarcastically) that at least in the apocalypse there is no waiting list for testosterone shots.
Jade Johnson (Jass) carries vocally most of the play, with every song performed pleasantly for the ear. In a production based on guitar ballads and pop tracks, her soothing voice matches the compositions perfectly. She’s also the comic relief and provides most of the puns (mostly related to the supermarket theme).
Elijah Ferreira (recently awarded “Best Performer in a Musical” at The Stage Debut Awards 2022) as Finn, shines in the pop-folk emotional ballads, but also gives it his all in the hilarious “Pineapple Song”. Ferreira also makes a very believable drunk singer, who even in a less-than-sober state is still pleasant to listen to. All this while handling the skilful live guitar gig throughout the performance.
“Help! We are Still Alive” is an adorable, stress-free musical that will delight especially the teenage/younger audience. Songs flow pleasantly, and actors are great to look at and listen to, but the story falls a bit flat, without serving much emotional depth. It still provides a pleasant, calming evening out at the Seven Dials Playhouse!
“Help! We are still alive” at Seven Dials Playhouse
Finn Elijah Ferreira (He/Him)
Jass Jade Johnson (She/Her)
Book & Lyrics Imogen Palmer (She/They)
Music & Lyrics Tim Gilvin (He/Him)
Director Georgie Rankcom (They/Them)
Musical Director Ben McQuigg (He/Him)
Set and Costume Designer Lu Herbert (They/Them)
Lighting Designer Lucía Sánchez Roldán (She/Her)
Sound Designer Simon Arrowsmith (He/They)
Stage Manager Imogen Brown (She/Her)
The show runs from 5 September – 15 October 2022 and is presented by The Grey Area Theatre Company in association with Seven Dials Playhouse. To read more about the full creative team and book tickets, please click here.