Heavily inspired by Tim Burton, Constance & Sinestra is a suitably weird little vignette. Encased happily in a permanent room in C soco, the setting is fantastic. Action To The Word have been able to turn this turret space into a sweetshop come taxidermy. Treats are strewn around and candy-stripe wallpaper covers two walls. Two cellos are perched on stage and there is a keyboard to the side, promising the potential of a live musical accompaniment. Quirky illustrations and jars full of screams hint at a dark fairytale world soon to be revealed.
But in a story that never hits its stride the full potential of this imagination is not reached. Instead, we see this musical resting too often on established subplots (a child catcher, a poor mad father and his loving daughter) to be truly unique and character threads seem hurriedly tied up. True, there is no happy ending but this too is no great surprise. It feels disappointing because the will for this to be good is high.
There are some nice touches here, though. The performers give it their all, relishing their pantomime characters with gusto and their voices are universally strong (in particular their stuffed mother who occasionally leaks formaldehyde). The harmonies are melodic and on occasion complex. To write a new musical is no mean feat and Alexandra Spencer-Jones and Patrick Gleeson have given it their best shot, but Constance & Sinestra could have been so much more.