Marry Me A Little isn’t a straightforward Stephen Sondheim musical. It’s a collection of seventeen of his previously unused songs brought together to loosely tell the tale of a man and a woman alone on a Saturday night. With only two actors on a permanent set, and with no linking dialogue, the uncomplicated show comprises a one-act run-through of solos and duets about love, loneliness, and human relationships.
It’s a concept that works well in the intimate environment of the St James Theatre Studio, especially with the cabaret-style set-up of the tables and chairs. Drinking is positively encouraged, and it’s an ideal show to enjoy with a glass or two of wine. It’s an atmosphere that aids the domestic setting of the piece, as the man settles down to watch TV, then remembers to take out the bins; and the woman unpacks her belongings from boxes.
In truth, the actual story behind Marry Me A Little is tenuous, if it exists at all; and Marry Me A Little is best enjoyed as a collection of songs rather than as a coherent show in its own right. Director Hannah Chissick wisely keeps a simple and naturalistic approach.Nevertheless, some of the songs are great, and if you’re a fan of Sondheim’s work, you won’t want to miss this one.
Laura Pitt-Pulford and Simon Bailey play the woman and man going about their mundane Saturday evening life. Their voices complement one another well, and they give excellent renditions of the songs to a piano accompaniment (David Randall). It’s Pitt-Pulford who finds that extra spark to surprise and delight. Her rendition of Can That Boy Foxtrot! is hysterically funny, with her delivery of the word ‘foxtrot’ a brilliant piece of comic acting. Bailey shines with the solo performance of Silly People, a sedate and reflective number, and he is at his best giving a self-contained characterisation.
The title song, Marry Me A Little, also belongs to Pitt-Pulford, and it is a moment to pull on the heartstrings.
Short and sweet, Marry Me A Little is a diverting hour’s entertainment that will especially appeal to Sondheim aficionados. The seventeen songs are beautifully brought to life by Laura Pitt-Pulford and Simon Bailey. It runs at the St James Theatre Studio until 10th August.