The members of the Napier University Drama Society are to be congratulated on their ambition. To create a new musical is
hard enough but to link it to one of the most successful and innovative shows of recent years is bound to result in direct
comparison between the two. And therein lies the problem with the show.
The idea here is clever, as we follow the life of someone who figures as a minor character in Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical -
the third Schuyler sister, Peggy - who disappears from view at an early stage (primarily to enable the actress to play Maria
Reynolds in the second half). '...and Peggy' uses Peggy Schuyler's life story to illustrate the lack of opportunity for even
wealthy and educated women to participate in public life in eighteenth century America. So far, so good.
Surprisingly there are few direct references to the better known musical, apart from some humorous signposting of dates to set the changing scene and a smirk to the audience when Alexander Hamilton introduces himself for the first time. When Peggy's father loses his seat in the Senate, there is no mention that the successful candidate is Aaron Burr who plays such a pivotal role in Miranda's show.
The style of the two musicals is very different, whereas 'Hamilton' combines hip hop with eighteenth century costume to create an innovative and dynamic show, '…and Peggy' does not. The costumes are well designed but the dance interludes, especially the rather bizarre dream sequence when Peggy is on her sickbed, seem to slow down the action rather than add momentum. For a musical, there are surprisingly few songs, some of which start promisingly - there is an amusing song about eloping with your cousin which is disappointingly short - whilst others are just not memorable enough.
It is fair to say that the young cast are fully committed to their roles and all have mastered a convincing American accent, while Elissa Dun provides a strong lead and gives a heartfelt performance.
For a group of students to create a new musical and bring it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is no small achievement but my advice to fans of 'Hamilton' would be to stay at home and listen to the soundtrack.
...And Peggy is at Greenside @Infirmary Street until August 18th
Greenside @Infirmary Street (Venue 236) 18.25