Review - The Distance You Have Come (Cockpit Theatre)

Songwriter Scott Alan's creations are a cornerstone in many musical cabarets, and so it may come as a surprise that he has never written a musical. Until now. The Distance You Have Come is a song cycle of Alan's work, directed by Alan himself, which turns some of his best known songs into musical exultations for a sextet of strangers. 
Emma Hatton in The Distance You Have Come 
Photo credit - Darren Bell
Starring six talented vocalists, The Distance You Have Come is a musical patchwork which stitches together the lives of individuals as they tackle all the love, loss, joy and fear in their lives. 

What's immediately evident is that an immensely talented cast has been assembled for The Distance You Have Come. All six cast members are uniquely talented, and represent a different emotion, attitude and journey, which audiences will undoubtedly be able to relate to. 

Andy Coxon and Adrian Hansel are charismatic as Brian and Samuel, a pair whose sweet journey blossoms from an awkward first date into an all encompassing romance. Alexia Khadime is in excellent voice as Laura, whose journey is one of loneliness and heartbreak, meanwhile Emma Hatton's Maisey represents optimism and light as she follows her dreams of becoming an actress, Dean John-Wilson's Joe experiences bleak and overwhelming darkness after a break up, and Jodie Jacobs' Anna travels on the rollercoaster that is modern dating post split. 

Andy Coxon and Adrian Hansel in The Distance You Have Come
Photo credit - Darren Bell
The strength of the material in The Distance You Have Come lies in its relatability, and Alan's talents as a songwriter are on particularly impressive display during the musical's brighter, more upbeat numbers. Jodie Jacobs' take on the hilarious Your Name, in which Anna tries in vain to remember the name of a man she's just started seeing, is a particularly warm bright spot. 

However, in act one in particular, the stark depiction of the low moments in life bring the production to a bit of a standstill, as one slow melancholy number follows another and another without reprieve, or thematic variation. The songs are heartfelt and honest but frequently maurose and a little too similar to follow after each other in such quick succession. What little book there is also feels a little fumbling, and as a result the first act feels slightly overlong.

Dean John-Wilson and Jodie Jacobs in The Distance You Have Come
Photo credit - Darren Bell
Act two is a considerably lighter yet equally touching experience, which ultimately leaves the characters and the audience on a high. Minimal set and lighting design by Simon Daw and Andrew Ellis respectively helps to establish a feeling of quaint comforting familiarity which further emphasises the musical's relatable storylines, and as the six characters come together to sing a hopeful rendition of the title song euphoria most definitely swells. 

The Distance You Have Come is a functional showcase of Scott Alan's songwriting accomplishments, but could do with a more balanced and even plot which would allow characters to explore a wider range of emotions and life experiences on their own before crashing together for the finale.