Set at a modern university, in the familiar surroundings of student digs, Fresher: The Musical shines a spotlight on the infamous Freshers’ Week, its cast of five students discovering and exposing each other’s shortcomings during a series of drinking games and nights out.
The characters – Basil, Hayley, Rupert, Tuc and Ally – all have very different backgrounds, but one thing in common: the all-important need to make a good first impression.
As different personalities bounce off one another, this musical embraces the idea that although clashes of personality are inevitable, the end result is a thoroughly enjoyable next three years, and, if you’re lucky, friends for life.
For those convinced that musicals are just for the over 40s, Fresher sets out to prove this concept wrong. It’s incomparable to any other student musical (think High School Musical or Glee) simply because it’s so honest with itself. Its characters swear and give each other cruel nicknames, shamelessly arguing, bitching and taking the piss out of one another, most of which is aimed at Basil!
This is part of the musical’s charm: its ability to relate to most, if not all, students. Actor Jeremy McCabe, who plays Rupert, also raises the point:
“It has parallels to lots of people’s own Fresher’s Week experiences and the characters aren’t just silly, they’re recognisable.”
Rupert is an obvious standout as the eccentric fresher, desperate to find love, leading him to practically ‘shotgun’ Ally as his own. Special attention should also be paid to the incidents before and after his ‘I Think I May Chunder’ moment.
We also cannot forget Tuc, the ultimate LAD Fresher; Ally, the sexy, if self-centred, posh Fresher; and Basil, the secretly gay and butt-of-all-jokes Fresher.
But my favourite has to be Hayley, the Scottish, anxiety-ridden fresher, whose character goes well beyond the usual stereotype of the non-drinking student. Vicky Low plays her well, with an expressive vitality, and maintains the far from easy accent steadily throughout.
It’s fair to say that at least one of your friends shares a character’s stereotype. If you’re struggling to think who it is, then it’s probably you!
The whole production comes across as even more incredible given the fact that it took a mere two weeks of rehearsals to perfect.
The music by Mark Aspinall is catchy, upbeat and cleverly written. Watch out for vocals from Lottie Scott-Wilson, playing Ally. Though all the voices are decent, Lottie is by far the best singer in the cast.
Costumes were carefully chosen and hilarious, Ally’s fancy dress outfit demonstrating the lengths and depths that some people go to impress others, whilst the use of glittery skin-tight waistcoats also helped to liven up one of the numbers.
With laughs, cries, tantrums, fights and even the odd shart, this production covers it all. So don’t miss out!
Fresher: The Musical is on at the Annex until October 8th.
Tickets are £4 and available from the Box Office.