Everything in Nothing

Wed 10th – Fri 12th August 2011


Ed Cripps

at 12:13 on 13th Aug 2011



'Everything in Nothing' is a witty, colourful and refreshingly self-aware musical from Somerset's acclaimed Wells Cathedral School, whose cast (aged between eight and eleven) are the youngest performers at the Edinburgh Festival.

Set in sixties Soho, it is the parable of Jack Tyler, a rich, stubborn music mogul who refuses to listen. Desperate for a Christmas number one, he puts all his chips on a hazy, tree-hugging double-act called Simone and Garfunkie, making a fatal, Faustian pact with sly hair salon-owner Hilda to pay for it, and ends up losing everything. However, he learns to temper his worst qualities through the help of a purgatorial gameshow (not unlike 'Jerry Springer: The Opera') and is offered a reprieve. Against a backcloth of catchy numbers and quite magnificent costumes, Tyler's decline, fall and resurrection are interwoven with the vaguer hopes of the idealistic Moon, his cynical friend Wordsworth, and two good-time girls Twiggy and Shrimpy, all of whom Tyler meets in a realist, 'Les Miserables'-style cafe.

William Easterfield is very impressive as Jack Tyler: funny and ruthless at the start, contrite but still a bit slippery come his epiphany, his performance was nicely nuanced and he has a cracking singing voice. I also liked Lucy May as the scheming Hilda and Ella Corlett as the kindly (and appropriately named) Esperanza.

The audience was overwhelmingly parent-heavy (as it should be) and they seemed quick to laugh at almost anything, but some of the script's best lines went unappreciated, like Jack's stirring words at the music video shoot: "Come on, look like you're having fun, it'll be Christmas in three months time!" I wonder whether this scene could have been even funnier and more farcical, possibly with more stop-starts like that wonderful scene in 'Singin' In The Rain' where the microphones on the film set don't work.

This is an ambitious, unusual and well-written musical performed by a talented, young and large cast, with some inventive flourishes (Tyler's two-headed conscience, for instance). It celebrates friendship, humility and altruism whilst encouraging suspicion of wealth, greed and fame, which gives the final curtain-call song (with lyrics like 'I wish it would happen to me' and 'I want money') an ambiguous sheen. More of the same next time, please!


Olivia Edwards

at 18:33 on 13th Aug 2011



What an original, refreshing, energetic, ambitious production! It is no mean feat to bring a party of fifty 8-11 year olds up to the Edinburgh Fringe for a week, let alone to have them star their own a show at the festival. The teachers and pupils of Wells Cathedral Junior School have done an fantastic job in staging a musical not simply good enough to make the parents proud but good enough to enchant audiences at the biggest arts festival in the world. Everything in Nothing is a new musical by Paul Denegri about the price of fame and power and the value of immaterial things: friendship, dreams, forgiveness. Set in Carnaby Street in 1969-70, the stage is perpetually awash with colour in everything from flared trousers to tie-die t-shirts and glittery berets, hairstyles are appropriately big, and the songs themselves have a distinctly sixties vibe.

Every single one of this show’s fifty cast members – both the lead parts and the smaller cameos – added something extra special to the production. William Easterfield is absolutely wonderful as the stroppy, self-centred boss of Slippery Banana Records who is in dire need of taking down a peg or two. Easterfield stalks around the stage with a permanent scowl, exasperated with his simpering entourage and convinced that he is always right. His solo song, ‘I’m the Boss’, as well as being extremely catchy, showed off Easterfield’s considerable vocal talent. The homeless-but-happy quartet, made up of Moon (Fergus Brown), Wordsworth (Toby Dennis), Twiggy (Phillippa Masters) and Shrimpy (Phillippa Malone) showed a zest for life that was infectious. Fergus Brown’s Moon, the optimist who dreams of space travel, is extremely likeable, and has real stage presence. Toby Dennis as the streetwise Wordsworth particularly shone in his ‘I Want It’ solo towards the start of the production. Phillippa Masters was wonderfully endearing as Twiggy, who is as much of a fantasist and idealist as Moon. Brown and Masters’ duet ‘We’ll build a bridge’ was especially touching and, I think, one of my favourite parts of the play. There was also a vast number of funny cameo roles that were hard to forget, including the slow-witted hairy rockers, ‘The Apes’; Fern the Fringe, the nonchalant receptionist at Hilda’s Hair Salon, played by Elizabeth Walker; and the sequin-suited showbiz presenter Hope Eternal, played by Hamish Lindsay. I wish there were space to mention more.

The enthusiasm of the participants was a real joy to see and I sincerely hope that Wells Cathedral Junior School continue to bring shows to the Fringe. If I was to make a couple of minor criticisms, it would be that it was occasionally difficult to hear some of the actors and the show was perhaps slightly too long, or in need of an interval, to keep up energy levels amongst both cast and audience. All of the teachers who made this happen deserve plenty of praise for producing such a polished production. I wish my junior school had run a scheme like this one, it would have been the best and most educational school trip I ever had!


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