There are few things I enjoy more than a night out at the theatre. At the start of the week I had the pleasure of Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at the Theatre Royal, next week I’m back there for The Kite Runner. I grew up in a culture of the arts, with parents who, every year, put on a pantomime with a local am-dram group. Therefore, when a friend and colleague asked if anyone would like to attend the opening of his musical fantasy Sicarius, I jumped at the chance.
It was only after coercing my parents into accompanying me and once we were sat in the auditorium at the Maddermarket that I considered the fact that Sicarius, an “original, thrilling, gothic tale of loyalty, betrayal, love and redemption”, might be terrible. An amateur play is one thing, but an original amateur musical has the potential to be so much less forgiving. What if I’d dragged my parents out on a freezing night, across the Norfolk tundra for trite? What if in exposing their art for judgement the creators and cast of Sicarius found themselves and it wanting? As the house lights dimmed, I found myself waiting in trepidation.
I shouldn’t have worried. Although a little rough around the edges Sicarius has a lot of promise. Michael Stoker, in the lead role of Gavrielle, a ‘deadly assassin, ripped from his family as a child’, conveyed both heartless killer and sympathetic hero, his struggles as he begins to question everything he’s ever known, efficiently communicated to the sympathetic audience. For the most part, the music was impressive, time and again I marvelled at the sheer talent involved in composing an entire musical, although at times the delivery didn’t quite hit the mark. It also didn’t help that the sound system was against them, cutting out every so often and threatening to throw everyone off. However, this was counterbalanced by the female members of the cast, who were collectively and by far the best thing about the performance. Most notably, Chloe Hunter, as Estella, carried some challenging solos impressively and complemented Stoker in their duets beautifully while Laura Marvell-James delivered some powerful vocals.
Sicarius is a real labour of love, a fantasy epic which brings to mind a combination of Assassin’s Creed and Les Mis in its delivery. Opening night, as often is the case, suffered from the occasional teething problem and was sadly under supported, as the road conditions put a lot of people off. However, the performance was enjoyable and engaging and the lack of polish, in places, forgivable. All in all, Sicarius is brave endeavour deserving of a larger audience, and with the potential to entertain fringe audiences in Edinburgh and London as the creators, Chris Dilley and Michael Stoker hope to do.
Sicarius is running at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich tonight, Friday 2nd March, with a matinee and evening performance Saturday the 3rd March.