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Review: I Could Use A Drink (Garrick Theatre)

I’ve long been a fan of the eclectic mix of songs on Drew Gasparini’s I Could Use A Drink album, originally released in 2013 with a host of Broadway stars filling the roles. As soon as I got the invitation I jumped at the chance to catch it.

Songs on the album sit almost entirely separate from one another, narratively speaking, and you’d be forgiven for presuming the production runs the risk of becoming disjointed and lacking a coherent story; this is not the case here. Each tune is bound with a rich journey that is effortlessly delivered by the cast and eight phenomenal musicians over two hours.

We start with A Little Bit, the heartbreaking and hilarious story of a man's journey coming out to his mother - ‘Did I ever want a dog or was I always more the feline type?’ - an exceptional opening effortlessly delivered by Luke Bayer. Every number that follows has, in equal measures, quality and confidence. The cast of Ahmed Hamad, Billy Nevers, Caroline Kay, Luke Bayer Bayer, Maiya Quansah-Breed, Olivia Lallo, Hiba Elchikhe, Callum Henderson and Alex Conder each hold the audience in their palm for the duration of their numbers - a mix of stand alone solo performances, duets and ensemble tunes.

A special mention must go to director/producer/performer extraordinaire Alex Conder, for stepping in at the last minute to replace a cast member who could no longer perform. Conders’ direction allows Gasparini’s songs to be at the forefront of the production, doing away with flashy choreography, staging and costume; instead opting for a more minimalist approach that allows us to wholeheartedly celebrate each story without distraction.

Good Stuff is arguably the strongest and catchiest number of the night - a mesmerisingly soulful story depicting the addictiveness of love in which Billy Nevers is on top form; displaying a jaw dropping vocal range, ability and charm - all the while succulently supported by the powerhouse ensemble - sending the audience into raptures entering the interval.

Poignant, hilarious and heart-breakingly honest; Alex Conder and Flynn Sturgeon have co-crafted a night of wonder using the crème de la crème of West End talent and you would be hard-stretched to find a musical theatre fan who wouldn’t love their I Could Use A Drink.

I Could Use A Drink was a one-night only event, but you can listen to Drew Gasparinis’ superb score here. I’ve listened to it twice today already. Produced by Liam Gartland and Alex Conder for Gartland Productions.

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