Review: Geek by Infinity Repertory Theatre

This new American musical has problematic moments but a great central performance

musicals review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 06 Aug 2018
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Many women would be totally fine with having the ability to kill a man just by looking at him. Texan teenager Gibby Stone (Olivia Tebsherany) is less pleased with this superpower, though. She just wants to fit in but isn't able to do so thanks to some spectacuarly poor parenting choices, including being abused by her father and being sold into a travelling freak show by her mother. 

Hailing from a youth theatre company in upstate New York, this complex new musical has some great songs. It's extremely right-on,  condeming religion, private healthcare and the objectification of women among other sins, but has plenty of problematic moments too. A male creative team writing about a teenage girl's issues with her body—though largely handled with sensitivity here—glosses over the female experience. There is also a troublesome turn of events at the end of the show involving the object of her affection that perpetuates racist and homophobic stereotypes.

The teenaged cast vary in quality but not in commitment, making this Geek a watchable show, despite its flaws. Writer/composer team Paul Andrew Perez and George Griggs boast some impressive credits, and this show is testament to their talent.

The production is partially staged, with most songs performed via stand mics at the front of the stage. There is clumsy multi-rolling and overacting, but these issues are offset by 17-year-old Tebsherany's astonishing voice. The young performer really packs a punch and is versatile too, switching from a folksy tone to a cracking belt with ease. This new musical is definitely worth catching for her voice and the catchy songs.