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Chet Baker: Let’s Get Lost (Susan Elkin reviews)

Chet Baker: Let’s Get Lost

Tim Connery

Directed Finlay Glen

Bridge House Theatre

Star rating: 2

Chet Baker was a talented 1950s jazz trumpeter – “the King of Cool” –  who got  into drugs and failed to fulfil his potential. Tim Connery’s short play attempts to give us a glimpse of Baker’s mindset before things went fatally wrong. Thus we see a young man (Alfredo Mudie Smart) who is ill at ease and loathes being pushed in every direction by people trying to make money out of him. “I’m a jazz man. I play and I sing” he says repeatedly, stressing that he doesn’t want to go to Hollywood and be committed to “some studio”. We are required  to imagine that he’s in an empty rehearsal venue confiding his inner thoughts to an imaginary audience.

Smart is a competent trumpeter with a sweetly mellifluous singing voice. He’s also a fairly convincing actor and has got the Oklohoma accent sorted along with the Western drawl of some of the people his character is addressed by. The final few moments of the play are moving too.

Sadly, though, none of that is enough. This play is skeletally thin. It runs just 45 minutes – short, often repetitive, monologues interspersed with Smart singing far too many ballads of the period, each including a trumpet interlude. It’s a samey format  which doesn’t add to the story telling. I wanted to know how Baker came to play the trumpet in childhood before his two army stints. Suddenly he mentions a wife – sorry? He swigs from a bottle he keeps in his brief case. When and how did that start?

This play feels very much like work in progress – a starting point. As a critic, of course, I didn’t pay for my ticket. If had done so I would have felt short-changed by the slightness of the production.



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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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