“If you’d like to come in for some tea and a chat
I’ve got a double-ended one and you can sit on that”
Who needs Olivier when you can have Eddie?! The latter may be a slightly lesser known award than the illustrious former, but it is arguably a more important one for upcoming talent. For The Eddies were conceived by Antonio Ferrera, Artistic Director of the Drayton Arms, for shows taking part in the Edinburgh Fringe with a top prize of a three week run to the West London venue. So congratulations to Fat Rascal Theatre whose BUZZ – A New Musical has just transferred in toto.
And it’s not hard to see why it took the prize. From the moment you enter the theatre and interact with the two cave dwellers also waiting for the show to start, the attention to detail in this comedy really is beautifully thought through. From the blink-and-miss-em gags (I loved the nod to Avenue Q) to the fully realised randomness (the pink bodysuit – just genius!), the show really does pack in the jokes and crucially, doesn’t labour over them so that the running time simply flies by with real comic energy.
Subtitled ‘A musical journey through the history of the vibrator’, Robyn Grant’s book interleaves the story of 20-something Angie, whose boyfriend has just dumped her, with historical anecdotes about the changing ways different societies have treated female sexuality. This it does with a marvellously rapid-fire quality – Cleopatra and her buzzing insect-filled gourd popping up over here, a Victorian doctor treating his patients for ‘hysteria’ tracking across the stage there – all the while, moving Angie closer to (re)discovering her sexual identity.
And so it is supremely silly at times, and consistently funny, there’s actually something of substance here – ‘it’s funny cos it’s true’ – and that marriage of material and meaning is certainly to be commended. Despite this revue-style format though, James Ringer-Beck’s score errs on the musically cohesive side, rather than taking the opportunity to really mix things up. Consequently, there’s not necessarily a stand-out tune that you’ll leave humming; at the same time, it has a pleasing sense of its musical identity.
BUZZ is further helped by the real ensemble ethos behind it too. The company is a group of nine recently graduated actor-musicians and aside from Allie Munro’s everywoman Angie, everyone pitches in with the constant multi-roling, joke-cracking and costume-changing including director Taylor Danson, and Grant and Ringer-Beck too. They seem to be having a great time, and deservedly so, for I thoroughly enjoyed it and sorry but I have to say it…I got a real buzz from BUZZ.