When you enter a musical, you do not expect to be herded onto the stage with the rest of the audience, held back from the seats by boxing ring style rope. In Another Way this is exactly what happens. The result is that the audience are put off-guard and, given the close proximity, end up chatting with strangers and friends. The cast then enter, singing the title's theme and dispensing curious origami flowers with fortune cookie-esque statements. Mine was:

                Keep walking around naked

your neighbours are into it

A screen then projects a live feed of the audience, filmed by one of the cast outside the ring. After a good deal of time spent standing, you are released into the seats and the show begins. This all suggests that what you are about to see is a touch experimental, something unpredictable and inventive. What follows is a fairly standard musical.

Another Way follows two couples and one business partnership as they face the problems of working and being together in trying times. They all have varying degrees of how difficult their problems are, ranging from differences of opinion to tackling cancer. The sticking point was that each of the three duos had only one problem between them, all of which had uncomplicated resolutions and didn't really develop into anything. One of the problems was even settled between scenes – a new couple have an argument and the next time we see them they're fine. For the rest of the play they're harmonious and happy. Where's the drama in that?

While it may be short on tension, Another Way contains some very good gags, both visual and verbal. The discovery of an action figure in the sofa during an intimate moment is a prime example of the hilarity you can expect. Occasionally casual racism is used, somewhat hazardously, for comic effect.

Considering that it was written by two women (Sarah Henley and Tori Allen-Martin), Another Way doesn't have all that much for the female characters to do – they're mainly props for the men in the relationships to lean against. While Oliver dreams of being a graphic novelist, is setting up a website and has issues about his current economic status, we know almost nothing about his partner Carrie apart from the fact that she is his partner. Similarly, Viv's only defining characteristic is caring for her partner Alex who is going through chemotherapy.

Often the songs are what make or break a musical. In Another Way they are powerful and generally well-sung, though not all that memorable. Indeed, it is easy to forget you're watching a musical about halfway through because it's been so long since the last song. Between the second and third songs there's an interim of four scenes without a single number to tap your toes to.

The stand-out member of the cast is Bart Edwards as Toby, who possessed strength and depth of character. He had the feeling of a man on the brink of success, desperately clutching at hope even as it was snatched away. While good at playing for laughs, he also imbued the character with a real sense of purpose, making his partnership with Aiden Crawford the most compelling to watch.

By the end everyone is pretty happy, but have they earned it? We've not been on enough of a journey with them to care all that much about their final fates. The mission statement of Another Way appears to be "make the audience feel good". The question is: feel good about what? All of the conflicts go away either by chance or the characters trying to make each other happy.

Another Way is an easy watch. The songs are enjoyable and the performers are good but there's nothing taxing, stressful or even emotional enough to require your brain to be engaged. While this new musical starts with the promise of being Another Way to do things, it ends up giving you More of the Same.

Another Way, at The Cockpit TheatreNik Way reviews Another Way at the Cockpit Theatre.3