Posts Tagged ‘James Bourne’

I was a champion of this ill-fated show when it had its short West End run just over two years ago (https://garethjames.wordpress.com/2012/11/25). This new small scale production, coming very soon after, is high on energy and enthusiasm and a little more cartoonish and goofier. I liked it al over again.

It’s 1971 and geeky Michael is trying to invent what we now know as email, but he’s stuck at the final hurdle. He’s left Arch Systems, who’s CEO’s son Eddie, cocky but thick, is determined to steal Michael’s thunder, by any means including blackmailing Holly – Michael’s new geeky friend and love interest (if only he could muster some confidence) – who finally cracks it. It’s simple and silly but its musical theatre with the emphasis here on music, because its chief appeal is an excellent pop score packed full of catchy tunes by Elliot Davies and (Mc)Busted’s James Bourne.

Luke Newton is a very good likeable nerd, contrasting with Lewis Bradley’s fine turn as confident, vain bully Eddie. Jordan Fox is terrific as Michael’s even nerdier friend Lucas and there’s a great pair of athletic performances from Ryan Ridley & Charlie Kendall as Eddie’s sidekicks Wayne and Huey. It’s very well cast overall, showcasing no less than 19 talented young performers.

I’m normally an advocate for unamplified shows on the fringe, but the material and band make up here means we struggle to hear some of the solos, though the choruses are properly rousing. It’s an impressive directorial debut from actor Michael Burden, with excellent choreography by Matt Krzan.

A fun couple of hours packed with great tunes. Take kids.

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If you accept that critics influence a show’s success, I wonder how much theatre producers consider what they will like when deciding what to put on. The average age of London’s top six critics is c.60. Is that why we get so much bloody Chekov and Shaw? What hope is there for a show that’s clearly aimed at an audience of the critics children and grandchildren? Loserville isn’t aimed at me (I’m the age of the average critic) but I admired and liked it. In fact, I wish my godchildren were still young enough to take to it.

It’s set in 1971 when the computer was younger than the show’s target audience and if you’d prophesied the internet they’d either laugh or section you. Our geek hero Michael is in a race to develop the concept of email against a nasty corporation who’s boss’ son Eddie is at school with him. When he falls for fellow geek Holly he gets closer – until Eddie blackmails Holly and Michael’s friend Lucas. Of course, it all ends happily.

The story is a perfectly good vehicle for musical comedy and Elliot Davis, co-writer of the much more grown up Soho Cinders, and Busted’s James Bourne have produced a good pop score which is played exceptionally well by the five-piece partly onstage band. Francis O’Connor’s design is colourful and clever and Nick Winston’s choreography is fast and witty. Director Steven Dexter’s speedy staging means it never lags and is fast enough to satisfy the shortest teenage attention span. The cast have great energy and charm, but it’s hard to mention anyone in particular because the four ‘indispositions’ resulted in nine role changes so I’m a bit confused (though that could of course be a senior moment).

The show provides well written, well staged and well performed fare for an audience that the West End hardly ever caters for and it’s sad that it hasn’t found its audience and is closing less than three months after it began. My speculation is that its the parents (and godparents!) who buy the tickets and they read the critics, so they’re taking them to Matilda instead. Frankly, I think they’d have more fun here.

It wasn’t meant for me but I’ll happily champion it.

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