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Phil Willmott

Review: NEXT THING YOU KNOW at The Garden Theatre

Next Thing You Know The latest production at this sweet little theatre, operating outdoors to lessen the risk of infection but with rain cover and heating, is NEXT THING YOU KNOW, a musical written by American writing duo Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham.

It’s an amiable little show and can provide you with a diverting night out particularly whilst London Theatre offers few alternatives. It’s the equivalent of channel hopping, alighting on some reruns of FRIENDS and thinking, “nice, that’ll do”. And it has a lot in common with the much loved TV sitcom.

It concerns a group of 4 people trying to make it in New York and coming to terms with not finding success as they turn thirty. Do they settle for more mundane careers? Do they settle for Waverly?

She’s a waitress in a bar where millennials gather to make quips and be sardonic, everyone sleeps with Waverly, informing her life decisions as she leaves her 20s.

Actually that makes it sound more interesting than it is, other than a marriage proposal there are few moments of insight or revelation for the characters. They all sort of just drift. Maybe that’s the point the writers are trying to make about the transition from 20 – 30, it just sort-a-happens, like their show.

To be honest NEXT THING YOU KNOW never promises to be much more than a series of songs finding humour in the realization that you’re no longer young enough to party all night. And that it does amicably enough although watching it during these dreadful times does make it easy to dismiss the characters as privileged wingers. I couldn’t care about any of them despite being able to relate to much of it from my own time trying to be sardonic in New York bars at a similar age.

It’s all simply staged around a couple of chairs and tables, the band is tight and it’s sweetly performed by drama school grads, Bessy Eva, Amelia Atherton, Calum Henderson and Nathan Shaw. It might be interesting to have them reprise the production in a few years when they’re the same age as their characters. Although… not really.

But, look, it’s a fun hour or so of live theatre that’ll give you a few laughs and leave you smiling, something we all need right now.