Louella Lucas (she/her) as Lex, Jaden Tsui (they/them) as Pride, and Lauren Lopez (she/her) as CeceMaria Woodford with permission for Varsity

Co-writer Gabrielle James summarises Living with Sin as a ‘Faustian Queer Eye’. Written in 2017, James’ show has been selected as one of CUMTS’ Fringe shows this year, and is a musical ‘seducing us all to try a little sin’. Unpacking this, James argues, ‘in 2022, honestly what is wrong with being proud of your accomplishments, or experiencing lust? The show is focused on encouraging women to feel they can take up space and shout about how fantastic they are in a way that is traditionally seen as being unladylike, or perhaps in a way that typically only men have been allowed to.’

The musical follows the story of Cece, a woman in her mid twenties who is feeling lost in life generally, balancing heartbreak and grief, and who experiments with the presence of the Seven Deadly Sins who aim to transform her circumstances. ‘The show was created as a way of processing our experiences of our twenties,’ James explains. ‘We grew up being told that we’d have a house and a family if we went to university – and all of that was just decidedly not true. It’s common for people to question whether we’re doing life right if we haven’t hit certain milestones by certain points, and we wanted to remind everyone that these milestones are made up and are no reflection on someone’s worth and value.’

“There’s something about music that is so effective in allowing the audience to form emotional connections”

Living with Sin joins several Cambridge-born and female-led musicals which have made their name at the Fringe, most recently, the hit SIX. James is self-efficacious about the show’s connection to SIX. ’We joke that we could call our show SEVEN (because of the Sins) as a more direct reference to SIX. We love SIX and we’d be absolutely delighted if we had a similar trajectory.’ The cast and crew, like that of SIX, have their roots in the Cambridge theatre scene. James notes how ‘you really are seeing shows and artists who are going to be the next big thing [...] I am so in awe of the talent we have in every aspect of this show. It’s truly such an exciting project to be a part of and I can’t wait to have audiences come join us and see everything we’ve created.’

Like SIX, Living with Sin promises to be a fun, yet deeply expressive and emotive piece of theatre. When asked why the decision was made to make the show a musical, James responded by illustrating how ‘there’s something about music that is so effective in allowing the audience to form emotional connections. When Joshua (Co-writer/composer) started composing they had a really clear sound in mind, and when we started workshopping jazzy music [...] it all really started to make sense. The Sins have a musical language and Cece has a musical language which has helped the actors to figure out who these characters are.’ With a cast of stellar contributors to the Cambridge theatre team, Living with Sin is bound to showcase the very best of performances Cambridge has to offer.

“The show was created as a way of processing our experiences of our twenties”

Part of the pre-production process has been demoing some of the numbers which will feature in the show. ‘We are pre-recording all our tracks,’ James explains. ‘Unfortunately we can’t fit a band on stage, however, Jemma (Musical Director), Gabriel (Assistant Musical Director), and Drew (Assistant Musical Director) have got a fantastic band together, written some incredible arrangements and then have collaborated with Joshua to get the tracks assembled and mixed [...] We will have full band sounds to our songs every night of the show.’ With a broad technical team including Technical Director Cody Knight and Sound Engineer Liam Macmillan, it’s evident that all aspects behind the musical have been creatively prepared.

The cast and crew are naturally delighted to be taking Living with Sin to Edinburgh. However, discourse surrounding the Fringe this year has been mixed, with issues surrounding post-covid changes and financial accessibility pulling productions in many different directions. James notes that ‘If things don’t change, [the Fringe] won’t be an option for emerging artists and companies anymore and that’s incredibly sad. We’re really keen to make the most of our opportunity, learn what we can about the best way to do it in the current climate and then pass on that expertise to future attendees.’

Indeed, the production team has adapted the show’s initial premise to the remits of the iconic festival. ‘The version we’re doing at Edinburgh is essentially the highlights of what we hope will one day be a one act 90 minute show,’ James relays, emphasising how ‘we wrote into the lore of the show that depending on who was cast as Cece there is flexibility to play with the casting of the Sins and we embrace that fluidity.’ With an ever-changing theatre scene, that fluidity in the direction and characterisation has enabled Living with Sin to adapt and flourish. James continues to suggest that ‘the creative vision of this show has really been driven by Ilona [Sell] as director [...] The script that I wrote has always been a jumping off point for the team to take and do what they want with so they can feel they have ownership of it.’


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Writing the musical and seeing it come together is a massive source of pride for James. ’This production is really a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the original production of Living with Sin because it will never look like this again.’

Living with Sin is playing at various venues in theSpace, Edinburgh Fringe, 5th-27th of August. You can listen to the demo versions of songs from Living with Sin here.