Review: Can-Can!, Union Theatre

As a dance musical, Can-Can! is a high-kicking delight at the Union Theatre

“My cheeks are clenched”

Courtesy of choreographer Adam Haigh, there is some seriously impressive dance going on at the Union Theatre right now. You might expect some good moves from a musical Can-Can! but the full company sequences that book-end the show are full of verve and vitality and some jaw-dropping moments, which are all the more impressive for taking place on a stage as intimate as this.

Phil Setren’s production wisely scatters more dance performances throughout the show, ensuring that we’re never too far from a routine, as the rest of the musical is something of a mixed affair. A grab-bag approach to its construction means it often feels scattered – based loosely on Pinero’s Trelawney of the Wells but moved to Paris, its populated with both real life figures from La Belle Époque and fictional characters. Continue reading “Review: Can-Can!, Union Theatre”

Review: UKIP! The Musical, Waterloo East

“It’s nothing to do with race
There’s just no bloody space
The NHS is knackered and 
The trains are a disgrace”

After a successful run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last summer, HellBent Theatre’s political satire UKIP! The Musical has set up camp at the Waterloo East Theatre for a week of performances. With book, music and lyrics by Huddersfield writer Cath Day and directed by Jessica Williams, the show is almost as much a cabaret revue as an actual musical but even with a broad range of musical styles being covered in this suite of original songs, Day manages the not inconsiderable feat of formulating a number of incredibly catchy numbers.

The book traces the rise of Nigel Farage from a Tory Party member with a keen sense of betrayal at Maastricht to the champion of Britannia herself at the helm of his own party, and then pushes further into a (thankfully) imagined parallel future as he’s ultimately forced to reap what he’s sown. The tone is always bitingly light though – his main advisors are the Ghost of Britain Past and the Britain Quite Recent (Churchill and Thatcher) and the Machiavellian figure of Godfrey Bloom, he of Bongo Bongo Land infamy, a mis-step vividly reconceptualised here with tongue firmly in cheek. Continue reading “Review: UKIP! The Musical, Waterloo East”