The Faust legend has inspired a slew of musicals from The Black Crook (1866) to Damn Yankees (1955). It also lies behind this new piece for which Mike Dyer has written the book, music and lyrics. But while Dyer can certainly turn his hand to a song, his libretto doesn’t add up.
It tells the story of Jimmy Tucker, a successful young photographer who agonises over recording the world’s suffering – so much so that he sings a number asking: “What kind of God above watches his children starve?” Jimmy is clearly a decent cove who does his best to protect Pandora, a messed-up rock-star chum, while falling for the homeless Tara, who makes angels out of old Coke cans. Given that Jimmy is already a top snapper, it makes no sense that he should succumb to a Mephistophelian PR man, Miles Mason, who persuades him to pursue public figures to chart their private sins. Miles may want power, but what’s in it for Jimmy?
Even as the book dwindles into absurdity, though, the songs keep on coming. Much the best of them, My Last Goodbye, is poignantly sung by Niamh Perry’s Pandora as she expires from an overdose. David Albury as Jimmy, Natalie Anderson as Tara and Michael Greco as Miles also perform well and Phil Willmott’s energetic production bombards us with black-and-white stills. But the book, which tacks on a gratuitous scene showing Jimmy absolving the sins of his dead photographer dad, is simply an empty vessel into which a number of perfectly harmless songs are wastefully poured.
•At St James theatre, London, until 27 August. Box office: 0844-264 2140.