BETWIXT! To 10 September.


by Ian McFarlane.

Trafalgar Studios (Studio 2) 14 Whitehall SW1A 2DY to 10 September 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 871 7632.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 3 September.

A Musical – and fun with it.
Every now and then something completely off the wall comes along, and this sparkling little show, a mixture of pretty well every fantasy musical ever seen, is extremely funny, tuneful and down-right bonkers. Replacing Ellen Greene after the initial run is the ebullient stand-up comedian and actress Lizzie Roper, whose arrival has changed the tone considerably, from Greene’s American to a British tradition of galumphing funny gals with sex appeal – and a range of voices to draw upon.

Ian McFarlane’s plot is gloriously complicated and springs endless surprises, his music is tuneful, his lyrics witty. Bailey Howard, young American author of a hit fantasy novel ( the lanky red-haired and ever so slightly drippy Benedict Salter) suffers from writer’s block. Into his apartment arrives Cooper Fitzgerald, an equally young would-be actor – the outrageously camp Steven Webb – who becomes his flat-mate.

The pair go through a magic door into a parallel world where they meet a pregnant princess needing a husband, a Nymph Queen and a very wicked enchantress (Roper in assorted outrageous dominatrix costumes, lots of décolletage, and the wedding dress from hell), a severed head called Miranda (the delectable Ashley Gray) with whom Bailey falls in love – much to his flat-mate’s annoyance – and Haydn Prince, hunky lead from a soap opera in the real world, also a player-king called The Great Garbo and fairy Prince Haydn (Peter Duncan, of Blue Peter fame, adding some gravitas).

One thing leads to another, including tap dancing, and chaos ensues. Potentially the most awful mess, it is in fact hilarious. The songs are pretty good too. The small supporting cast double lots of roles with Rob Wilshaw providing the beefcake and Will Hawksworth in a dress being memorably creepy as a mute. The singing (particularly from Salter) is of a high standard and the three-piece band play up a storm.

This is a rare treat, a small show which is original, home grown, funny and tuneful. And as far as one can tell, they all live happily ever after. Or maybe not. It’s that sort of show.

Bailey Howard: Benedict Salter.
Cooper Fitzgerald; Steven Webb.
Miranda; Ashleigh Gray.
Princess/Nymph Queen/Enchantress: Lizzie Roper.
Prince Haydn/Haydn Prince/The Great Garbo: Peter Duncan.
Reporters, Embassy Staff, Theatre Troupe Members, Nymphs and assorted roles: Will Hawksworth, Rob Wilshaw, Kelly Chinery, Alyssa Nicol, Vicki Lee Taylor.

Director: Ian McFarlane.
Designer: Rachel Stone.
Choreographer – Grace Harrington.

2011-09-04 23:40:42

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