On July 18th, 2009, 17-year-old Henry Fraser severely crushed his spinal cord in a freak accident which left him paralysed from the waist down; “I know what you’re thinking, a terrible idea for a show, right?” declares Fraser to the audience at the start of

Credit: Pamela Raith

the show. It is a clever aside, but we never believed him for a moment, as The Little Big Things is truly a special experience in the West End.

With a book by Joe White, we are presented with two versions of Fraser: one before the accident and one trying to come to terms with the life ahead of him. It is a device that works well and not only allows the audience to fully digest the life-changing nature

of Fraser’s accident but also helps tell the story in an inherently theatrical way. Both performances from Henry Amies and Ed Larkin are grounded, and tender, and make you fall in love with the central character.

The supporting cast fares excellently too. West End veteran Linzi Hateley gives the best musical performance of the night in her heartbreaking number, “One to Seventeen”: seeing Fraser’s mother reflect on her son growing up after hearing about his condition is heartbreaking and a true form of musical theatre storytelling. Equally impressive is Alasdair Harvey’s performance as Andrew Fraser, who gives us the portrayal of a wounded man desperate to put on a brave face for his family.

However, the show is well and truly stolen by Amy Trigg, who brings the house down with her dry delivery and brutal one-liners as Agnes, Fraser’s physiotherapist. A wheelchair user herself, her candid approach to living with a disability and how it opened her life up in ways she couldn’t have foreseen is understated and profound. “If I could make that decision again,” she says in reference to the car crash that put her in the chair, “I’d do it all over again.” This candid and optimistic look at how life can change following an accident is something I’d never seen before, and for that, it deserves plaudits.

Credit: Pamela Raith

From an ensemble point of view, it is truly refreshing to see such a diverse group of performers telling such an inspiring story. From wheelchair users to amputees, the show is a celebration of life in all its different forms, and it really hits home how lacking this is in the West End.

The show is, on the whole, boldly designed, but I must give special credit to Lighting Designer Howard Hudson and Video Designer Luke Halls. The explosions of colour that flood the stage and auditorium are truly special and help us see the world through Fraser’s eyes as he begins to discover the artist within him.

It may not be perfect – the score by Nick Butcher and Tom Ling is enjoyable and helps move the story along but is not inherently memorable. I found myself being reminded of the styles of Come From Away and Dear Evan Hansen and wishing that the music had its own unique take. The numbers are, however, crowd-pleasing and I’m sure will become firm favourites in years to come.

Some of the humour did not land for me when it descended into broad comedy, and I was left bemused by the upbeat company number set in PopWorld, of all places. However, these are just minor issues in what is overall a strong new British musical.

The show may be called The Little Big Things, but there is nothing little about the success that awaits this show.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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