I first came across Leoe and Hyde at Buxton Fringe with their stunning musical The Marriage of Kim K (also here in Edinburgh). The Inevitable Quiet of the Crash is an altogether darker piece of musical theatre, and though it doesn't hit the same sustained heights, it is similarly ambitious and never less than interesting.
Three women in modern-day London are linked by one man: they are his mother, and two younger women who are both in romantic relationships with him. He is the focal point of their lives, and when he dies in an accident on the Underground they each struggle to come to terms with their futures, isolated in a city that shows little sympathy and doesn’t stop moving.
The production features a three-piece band on stage playing a jazz-inflected score, a surprisingly rich musical accompaniment achieved by just cello, keyboard and drums. The singing is likewise impressive; the three voices are given time to stand out individually, but are also cleverly interleaved with some dramatic spoken-word segments. Together with intelligent staging and direction by Issy Fidderman, there is a lot going for this production.
The difficulty is that The Inevitable Quiet of the Crash has very little in the way of light and shade, and is played with almost continually heightened intensity. It becomes draining, and makes it hard to distinguish changes in mood and emotion. The point is best illustrated by exception: when the wide-eyed Anna recalls her first meeting with Alex and falling in love, it is done with such joy and wonder that it comes as a relief. Emilie Finch does have an advantage in having such a distinctive piece to play with, but to me she is the stand-out performer, delivering a character with a delightful down-to-earth sense of curiosity.
The concept of three women, isolated in the big city and struggling to make connections, is a good one – but it also flies in the face of the story’s logic. When Alex dies he is with Anna; there must have been a funeral, so surely Anna and Alex’s mother Julia would have met. His other lover, Sally, would have had her own reasons for wanting to know more about Anna, and particularly to connect with Julia. It seems inconceivable to me that they would all remain entirely aloof from each other, even unaware.
A less dramatic reason for Alex’s disappearance may have helped, but it would have also have cut the single most startling scene: the rendering of the accident in a drum solo by Caleb Choo. This is a spellbinding moment, reminiscent of the incredible drumming from the film Whiplash.
It would be harsh to be too critical of The Inevitable Quiet of the Crash; all the elements of the production have real quality, even if the whole does not quite cohere. As a company, Leoe and Hyde have shown that they are not going to play it safe. And that fact bodes well for their future; I’m sure there is more to come.