Despite the strong vocal performances of its cast, Barely Even There suffers from cliché lyrics and dialogue, as well as too much melodrama. If some of the exchanges weren’t so on the nose, I may have been able to buy in.
Should you see it?
After leaving her native Quebec to be with Chris (J.P. Chartier), Amy (Maude Thennon-Richard) finds that her husband is too obsessed with his work, and fears that it is destroying their marriage. Their 12 year old daughter, Grace (Camille Simard-Langlois), is distraught by this and believes it may be her fault. While the drama is very apparent, and the performances are strong all around, the melodrama of this play strangles it at many points. The lyrics and dialogue are so cliché and hammy that I was cringing throughout the show. At times, I felt like I was watching a soap-opera.
Now, I realize divorce is a painful experience for families, and that this is the point of the play, but the lack of any levity disconnected me from the show. The fast escalation in the fighting between Chris and Amy is also distracting. There’s only so much you can do in an hour, but a more gradual deterioration of their relationship could have helped. Instead, we get to shouting and more shocking actions very fast. Additionally, Chris is made out to be solely responsible for the downfall of the marriage. I’m not saying there aren’t divorces where one parent is really the one at fault, but it just felt a bit simplistic to me.
To their credit, the performers do their best with their roles, and their singing is worthy of praise. The trite lines just made me role my eyes too many times. The only weak point to the singing was that Camille Simard-Langlois’ voice would become so quiet at points that I could not hear her at all. When she was projecting, she was bang on. It’s just a matter of training because, at 15 years of age, she is going to be a very good singer for a long time.
Overall, I’d say give this show a pass. It has some lovely voices, but it’s too bad what they’re saying/singing wasn’t all that interesting.