SHANG-A-LANG To 15 February.


by Catherine Johnson.

King’s Head Theatre 115 Upper Street Islington N1 1QN To 15 February 2014.
Tue – Sat 7.15pm Mat Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 45min One interval.

TICKETS: 0207 478 0160.
Review: William Russell 25 January.

For (some) Adults Only.
Raucous, funny it certainly is, and thankfully there are no tunes by Abba – Catherine Johnson wrote the book for Mamma Mia, perhaps the greatest of the back-catalogue musicals – but for me it was an evening in the company of a bunch of moronic, stupid, vulgar people whose acquaintance I could well have foregone.

It is 1998, the setting is Butlins where they are celebrating the 1970s. We are put at our ease by an extremely annoying Redcoat chatting up the audience, who at least had the wit to realise that I was “tricky”, after which we meet Jackie (Kellie Batchelor), a downtrodden wife, who has brought her friend Lauren (Samantha Edmonds), a spinster with a crush on Woody of the Bay City Rollers, to celebrate Lauren’s 40th birthday. Their friend Pauline (Lisa Kay), a slag and a lush, has turned up uninvited.

The trio meet two members of the tribute band performing at the camp, Carl (Ben McGregor), a hunk with an incipient beer belly, and Vince (Thomas Craig), self-centred lout whose wife has kicked him out and refuses, he says, to let him see their children.

They knock back the vodka and anything else that comes to hand, use the ‘f-word’ repeatedly, Pauline is bedded by Carl, and Jackie by Vince, while Lauren gets to spend the night in the cold dreaming about Woody.

There is a resolution of sorts at the end – Pauline more or less comes to her senses, dismissing the fantasy Woody from her life, Vince is exposed as the egotistical lout he really is rather than a deprived dad, and Jackie goes back to stand up to her man.

The acting is good, Johnson catches the argot to perfection and cracks some decent jokes – Pauline says she never takes no for an answer and is told she never gives no for an answer either – but for all that it is very hard to care about any of them. One is inclined to agree with what Rhett said to Scarlett.

Redcoat/Man/Woody: Tom Woodward.
Pauline: Lisa Kay.
Jackie: Kellie Batchelor.
Lauren: Samantha Edmonds.
Vince: Thomas Craig.
Carl: Ben McGregor.

Director: Robert Wolstenholme.
Designer: Christopher Hone.
Lighting: Seth Rook Williams.
Sound: Neil McKeown.
Accent coach: Tim Charrington.

2014-01-27 01:20:50

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