Bullet Heart Club is well-named: the outfit that produced Rochelle Bright's heartbreaker hit Daffodils now brings us Bright's shot at heart-stopping suspense. But keeping the tension taut and the entertainment high in a one-man musical thriller is a tall order: songs are liable to ease the sense of danger and a thug can't really stand over his victim when they're both played by the same guy.
The show nearly makes it. Jane Hakaraia's lighting and Tom Anderson's soundscape keep the nerves on alert throughout, and the satisfying narrative arc (arguably barring a superfluous coda) works nicely.
At the beginning, we're shown office junior Oliver at his workplace at 2am, seriously panicking, and the next 70 minutes explain how and why he's in such a state. It's an office thriller of long-distance digital connections between atomised people (it helps to know that Google documents is a web-based platform to share documents across devices).
Todd Emerson has a beautiful ballad voice and, under Conrad Newport's direction, his Oliver is very believable: an arrogant, unpleasant 20-something disappointed by life. But Oliver is not funny or fun, and because his suit is fittingly ill-fitting and his hair is suitably slicked down, it's hard for Emerson to belt out the rockier numbers with much charisma. The quieter songs, with Emerson hunched over the mic, wash into each other. Abraham Kunin's lyrics are sad and plaintive, working against Bright's script full of Oliver's energetic spite.
The x-shaped stage means there's a huge amount of ground to cover, but it allows Oliver to get wonderfully close to the audience. This is a show likely to settle in as the season progresses. Ambitious, with potential.
What: The Deliberate Disappearance of My Friend, Jack Hartnett
Where: Loft, Q Theatre
When: To August 8.