In Blind Faith
Written and composed by Cadence Chung
Directed by: Lewis Thomson and Hazel Perigo-Blackburn
BATS Theatre, 23rd Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Finlay Langelaan
In Blind Faith shoots for the moon, misses, but lands among the stars regardless. A two-act original musical is a phenomenal undertaking, one which Cadence Chung has demonstrated herself fully capable of achieving. The Otago goldrush never looked so much fun.
Entering the Dome, I find myself apprehensive. There’s no set in sight, and a full band right there on stage. However, my concerns of sparcity and overwhelming music are quickly dismissed; naive new girl Edith (Kassandra Wang) opens the show with a beautiful ballad, and immediately after the stage is flooded with a delightfully Dickensian chorus. I’m swept away into a romantic world of gorgeous gold miners and personified philosophies.
We are quickly introduced to the charming Polly (Tara Terry), who melts my heart throughout with her honest adoration of Edith. Before we can reach a happy ending, though, we meet the dastardly Augustus (Karmeehan Senthilnathan), Disney-villain-seductress Helen (Shervonne Grierson), and grim pessimist Sybil (Lilli Street). Their songs are funky and evocative, their performances just half a step back from melodrama. Senthilnathan’s epistemological comments are genuinely insightful, Grierson clearly has tremendous fun with her role, and Street’s creepy carnival number had my foot tapping.
At its heart, the show is a discussion around personal morals: nihilism versus hedonism, knowledge versus desire. It is a show that doesn’t quite know what it wants to say, but says it wholeheartedly anyway. There are moments that are pleasantly anti-capitalist, but the world is so romanticised that capitalism doesn’t feel like a real threat.
Unfortunately, Chung’s songwriting prowess doesn’t quite carry over to the dialogue; some of the exchanges feel repetitive and on the nose, and I find myself yearning for the next song.
Despite its narrative imperfections and bemusing finale, however, In Blind Faith manages to be a slick, well-produced, unapologetically sapphic musical that will appeal to all.