“There isn’t a weak link in this cast,” writes Cassie Tongue in her review of High Fidelity for Time Out.
The weak link, most critics agree, is the script.
“The less you know of, or have sentimental feelings for, Stephen Frears’ 2000 movie High Fidelity, the more you’ll probably enjoy this musical theatre adaptation,” writes Audrey editor Jason Blake in his review for the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s like Hilary Duff’s cover of My Generation in that respect. Or Celine Dion’s You Shook Me All Night Long: difficult to appreciate with the original in mind.”
Scripted by David Lindsay-Abaire, High Fidelity sticks close to the movie but its celluloid predecessor’s appeal is lost in translation. “The characters bear a trite American blandness. Both its humour and drama are ridden with cliché and a staggering predictability,” writes Suzy Wrong on Suzy Goes See. She is rather more impressed by the production and the efforts of the cast.
“The strong leads almost save the day,” Suzy continues. “Toby Francis and Teagan Wouters bringing an admirable sense of vulnerability and authenticity to their roles.”
In The Australian, Deborah Jones gives Francis a nod for his “undeniable charm” as record shop owner Rob Gordon but notes that “while Rob endlessly bares his indecisive soul (with on-off lighting to match), everyone around him gets to do much more interesting things.”
Cassie has kind words for director Neil Gooding and cast for generating a sense of agency for the women of the story, Teagan Wouters (Laura, Rob’s ex-girlfriend), especially: “Wouters brings cool, confidence and self-possession with great reserves of warmth to the part. And she’s never sounded better; in Number Five with a Bullet she sings the house down with fuck-you glory.”
Richard Cotter at Australian Stage concurs: “Wouters is lyrically lustrous as Laura. Zoe Gertz as Liz, Laura’s bestie is a force majeure, gutsy, feisty and sincere.”
And the music? Composer Tom Kitt and lyricist Amanda Greene’s score “blends pop and rock with some flair but results in the kind of air-punchers Rob and his buddies wouldn’t let through the front door, much less sing,” writes Jason.
Most had good things to say about the quality of the singing and the playing. “Andrew Worboys’ band is tight and responsive, bringing life into a rock-led score that’s more generic than it is incendiary,” writes Cassie.
The last word goes to Suzy: “There is great conviction on stage, everyone gives their all, but we want an artistry that is more than elbow grease. The show people are clearly inspired, but the audience too needs to be moved.”