LIFT takes place during the 54 second journey of a lift in Covent Garden tube station. The eight characters are strangers. Each character’s story that unravels in the show is a fragment of the Busker’s imagination and a reflection of his own love stories and heartbreak. At the beginning of the show the Busker projects his own ideas onto the characters but as his own feelings change and develop so do the characters. They begin to take control, to interact with him. Scenes flow in and out of each other, sharing certain ideas, phrases and words. LIFT was originally developed by Perfect Pitch.
Busker arrives at Covent Garden tube station on an ordinary morning, takes a letter from his pocket, and reads it. It is from his wife, Sarah, telling him that she has been offered a teaching post in Paris; she is tired of the growing distance between them for the past year and of his constant focus on strangers. Busker reads until Sarah mentions some lyrics she has found in a drawer, all about ‘Her’, but chooses not to read on, instead picking up his guitar as seven other commuters arrive. Secretary, Ballet Dancer, Lap Dancer, Bright Young Thing, French Teacher, and two American tourists get in the lift with Busker. As they sing about themselves and those they may be connected to, their situations merge with his, introducing the clues he has picked up about each of them as he begins imagining his own situation through their eyes (SHE MEETS HIM/ONE MINUTE).
Busker’s focus is on Secretary, the ‘Her’ who was mentioned in the letter. Through his imaginings we are transported to possible scenes in Ballet Dancer’s life where he is only able to connect with lovers physically rather than emotionally. Meanwhile we watch French Teacher contemplate a flirtatious student who asked her out (LINK/DIVERSION ENDS), before she finds herself at a lap dancing club, bewildered. She explains to Lap Dancer that her girlfriend, Sarah, arranged this for her, which means Sarah clearly doesn’t know her at all. Instead of going ahead with the misled lap dance, the two talk.
As Ballet Dancer searches for potential hook ups online (DIVERSION ENDS 2), he ends up chatting to Bright Young Thing, a successful businessman, under the guise of a female avatar. The American Tourists become the two avatars of Ballet Dancer and Bright Young Thing, acting out this online conversation, but to Ballet Dancer’s disappointment, Bright Young Thing is more willing to talk emotions than innuendos.
This leads us to a scene in Bright Young Thing’s office as he narrates a letter to Secretary, completely unaware of her adoration for him. As he insists on the need to remove feelings from business, not even calling her by her first name, she laments a single day when the two of them connected (THAT RAINY DAY). However, Bright Young Thing is busy thinking about another woman who has left him but still lingers in his thoughts, and his situation parallels the Busker who is still thinking about Secretary, wondering what she is like, considering how much time he wastes thinking of her (ALL ABOUT HER).
This realisation of wasted time jolts the Busker back to the present, and we find ourselves once again back in the lift, at the start of the journey. Drawn momentarily out of his imaginings, he finishes reading the letter from his wife Sarah. She is saying goodbye to him, even as she tells him to do something rather than live his life in minutes. However, Busker is still entranced by Secretary and ignores the letter, insisting on living through his imagination (PROLOGUE/ALL ABOUT HER 2).
Once again we are catapulted into the partly imagined lives of those in the lift. Now we join Lap Dancer and Ballet Dancer, whose friendship has extended beyond ballet school and into him getting her a job as a lap dancer and her offering him driving lessons. Despite Lap Dancer’s feelings for him, knowledge of his homosexuality has prevented her from ever telling him, which is why she is so shocked when he reveals that he has a fiancée back home in Newcastle. This fiancée is just one part of Ballet Dancer’s straight façade whenever he goes up north.
Bright Young Thing again finds himself chatting online to Ballet Dancer, still unaware that he is talking to a man. This time Bright Young Thing is the one thrown when the conversation is turned towards real emotions, when he is asked how long it’s been since ‘she’ left him. In between the next scenes, Bright Young Thing reveals that it’s been a year since he split up with his partner. His heartbreak is echoed as we find ourselves back at the lap dancing club, where French Teacher has booked a second session with Lap Dancer, once again just to talk. As French Teacher reveals, no one else knows about French Teacher and Sarah’s relationship, but this morning Sarah packed her bags and left without warning. Lap Dancer is the only person French Teacher has to talk to (LOST IN TRANSLATIONS).
As Ballet Dancer celebrates Lap Dancer’s first full year as ‘Sarah’ the lap dancer with her, Lap Dancer can’t help thinking about her hopeless feelings for him (IT’S BEEN A YEAR). The song undercuts the online conversation between Ballet Dancer and Bright Young Thing, as they are now opening up to one another. Except that Ballet Dancer is still pretending to be a girl, and when he describes himself to Bright Young Thing he finds himself describing Lap Dancer, ‘Sarah’. Finally he gives in and reveals ‘Sarah’’s real name, Kate. Simultaneously at the lap dancing club, Lap Dancer reveals this same name to the French Teacher for the first time. However, both pairs realise that at the end of the day they are strangers.
This realisation builds to a climax through the characters in the lift, until finally they turn to the Busker and speak to him for the first time, urging him to tell Secretary how he feels (OCTET). At long last Busker complies, and, lifted by the music, he climbs up onto the roof with Secretary. The roof of the lift becomes, for Busker and Secretary and for us, the top of the city, where the two finally connect (TOP OF THE CITY).
The moment of connection must come to an end, however, and as the two climb back inside the lift reality begins to take over once more (SHE MEETS HIM REPRISE). We watch the single minute in the lift play out in real time, as it appears outside of the Busker’s imaginations, and we see the hints and clues that aided the Busker’s scenarios, including the moment when he overhears Bright Young Thing call Secretary by her real name, Kate. At the end of it all, the characters walk out of the lift to continue their day. Busker is left alone once more, but now that he knows Kate’s name he knows one more thing about the girl he loves, one more lyric for his song.
Music & Lyrics by CRAIG ADAMS Book by IAN WATSON
BUSKER – Male. Late 20s/Early 30s. Vocal range: bottom A – top B. Rock quality. Possibly guitar player. Actor/musician.
The Busker is a daydreamer and the main observer and narrator in LIFT; a songwriter confused about love. He has spent the last year busking at Covent Garden underground station. In this time he has grown estranged from his wife Sarah and become infatuated with a stranger (the Secretary) who he sees in the lift every day. All he knows about her is that her name begins with the letter ‘K’.
On this exact day he has received a goodbye letter from Sarah saying she has left him for Paris. Throughout the show we see the Busker reimagine his own love stories and heartbreak through the eyes of the strangers around him; slowly bringing him closer to the girl ‘K’ and the discovery of her name that will be his final lyric.
SECRETARY – Female. Late 20s/Early 30s. Vocal range: bottom G – F (mixed).
In love with her boss – Bright Young Thing – who we see refuses to call her by her name. We only hear the first letter, ‘K’. The Secretary is committed and hardworking, living by her (or his) schedule secretly dreaming of a spontaneous romance or break from routine in the name of love.
BALLET DANCER – Male. Late teens/Early 20s. Vocal range: bottom A – top B. (Rock/pop quality).
Dancer in training at ballet school in London, leading a double life. In London he is openly gay but we learn he is yet to come out back home and still has a fiancé, Sarah. On the surface he is talented, vain, cocky, sexual and a show-off. Behind the banter and the teasing we see Ballet Dancer is frustrated and confused at living a lie. He is afraid of commitment and fantasises about being invisible – hiding behind strangers in the lift, in chatrooms and in performance. We see a softer, protective side to him with his relationship with Lap Dancer, who is teaching him to drive.
LAP DANCER – Female. Late teens/Early 20s. Vocal range: bottom A – D (belt).
In love with her friend, Ballet Dancer, knowing that he is gay. Her real name is Kate, but she calls herself Sarah at work. She is hurt, abrasive, defensive and takes cocaine. The Lap Dancer’s journey through the show is her struggle to remain friends with the boy who has unknowingly broken her heart. She spends time with French Teacher, whose ex-girlfriend paid for her sessions to encourage her to become more sexually confident. She plays a part in healing French Teacher’s wounds and in doing so recognizes her own heartbreak.
BRIGHT YOUNG THING (BYT) – Male. Mid 30s. Vocal range: bottom A – top F/G. (Musical Theatre).
Businessman. Masculine, hard-working, enjoys striving for power and success. Belongs to a big corporate company and hides behind computer screens whether at work or on dating websites. Believes in separating feelings from business; hence never calling the Secretary by her name and unaware that she is in love with him. Separated from his ex, he is lonely and invisible in the city and unable to express his emotions.
FRENCH TEACHER – Female. Early 30s. Vocal range: bottom A – F (Musical theatre belt).
A French Teacher who has had a short relationship with a woman she was teaching, Sarah, who has left her abruptly for Paris. She turns up to the lap-dancing club after her ex-girlfriend jokingly books her in for a session to encourage her to be more sexually confident. She becomes friends with and spills her heart to the Lap Dancer. She wears her heart on her sleeve and is hurt by the girl who led her into a surprising and thrilling new way of life only to abandon her.
Tall, Dark and Handsome (TDH) – Mid 30s. Vocal range: bottom A – top A. (Musical theatre).
Male tourist in the lift: takes the role of male avatar on dating website.
Athletic & Wearing A Thong (AWT) – Late teens/Early 20s. Vocal range: bottom G – E (Belt).
Female tourist in the lift: takes the role of female avatar on dating website.
Guitar 1 (Electric, Acoustic)
Guitar 2 (Electric, Acoustic)
Guitar 3 (Acoustic, ideally played by BUSKER onstage)
Bass (Electric, Acoustic)
NOTE: Original production soundscape (compatible with Qlab), included free in the Logo Pack, contains pre-recorded Guitar 2, the String Quartet, and all sound effects – with click track.