FIVER at London's Southwark Playhouse
                   The Cast of  FIVER -  photo: Danny_with_a_camera

Have you ever looked at a five pound hote and wondered 'Haven't I seen you somewhere before ....?'

FIVER follows the story of a humble £5 note as it passes through the hands and pockets of several people in London, each in a significant moment of their lives. One is a busker, another is homeless and living on the streets, a further is a bereaved son and his father, there is a teacher, bullied students, an impending birth and romantic duos, to name but a few. These are the various scenarios performed as an ensemble piece by a talented and exciting cast of five who embrace each cameo with conviction, energy and empathy.

FIVER is the creation of Alex James Ellison (Writer/Producer/Actor/Guitarist) and Tom Lees (Writer/Musical Director/Producer)) who was nominated for a Broadway World award for Best Musical Director and who has been MD for several productions including the Sondheim revue, 'Just Another Story'.

At times reminiscent of 'Rent' and with shades of Sondheim, Lees has created an exciting score of ballads, duets and street rap, performed with superb harmony and energy by the committed 5-person cast. Accompanying them on guitar is Ellison who from the start engages with the audience and spends much of the time sitting amongst them whilst he strums along to the numbers, Lees on piano, Matt Billups on drums, Florian Belbeoch/Will Robertson on cello and Sam Pegg on bass. And this score certainly hit the right note. Unlike many musicals that carry one or two 'dud' numbers, there were no disappointments. Each of the songs mirrored exactly the mood of the moment and was strong in structure. Of course I had my favourites but in truth all were deserving of merit and it would be difficult to single out any one number. 

In 2017 a workshop of FIVER ran at London's Crazy Coqs. Since then, Ellison and Lees have expanded the show both in terms of length (now 2 hours 10 minutes including an interval) and complexity. 'We are massively excited to see the changes come to life on the stage'. And they have every right to rejoice in their success. 

The series of sketches explore the connection and relationships between the various characters who all share the common denominator of the £5 note. Would this fiver change the life of the homeless man, could it offer hope and joy even for a few moments to those who possess it? With the high energy of the opening number 'Change Is Bringing Me Down' to the hope and joy of 'My Day', the yearning plea of 'Whisper It To Me' and the punch of 'Gotta Keep My Head Down', the pace did not falter and subtly the disconnection linked. 

The 'Little Studio' of the Southwark Playhouse is an intimate space seating approximately 120 people. This offers an intimacy and involvement in the characters and the audience were entirely invested in the piece. The tiny stage allows only for a minimum of props and it is down to the performance of the cast that each scenario took on a life of its own. Yes, the audience took to their hearts this likeable bunch who were well deserving of the rapturous applause and standing ovation given at the close of the production. 

Full credit must be given to the outstanding cast, whose voices soared and whose versatility was convincing.  Played by Luke Bayer, Aoife lesham, Dan Buckley, Hiba Elchikhe and Alex James Ellison, FIVER is playing in the Southwark Playhouse Little Studio from 3-20 July 2019 and is a veritable treat. 


photographs: Danny_with_a_camera 

Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6B  

Wednesday 3 July - Saturday 20 July  2019  

Monday - Saturday 20.00 hrs  Matinees Tuesday and Saturday 15.30hrs  

Running Time 2 hours 10 minutes including the interval  

Box Office 020 7407 0234 

Tickets £22 and concs £18   

Social Media:


FIVERMusical Southwark Playhouse