Soho Boy music and lyrics by Paul Emelion Daly. Drayton Arms Theatre, 153 Old Brompton Road, London to 4 June 2022 & then to the Edinburgh Fringe. 3***. William Russell

This hour long song cycle tells the story of Spencer, a young man from the sticks who comes to London to live in a pad, has a job selling something and dreams of becoming a cabaret artiste a bit like the Little Sparrow. Mother hopes he will meet a nice girl, Spencer hopes he will meet a nice man. The book is rather slight and could do with some extra scenes but the series of songs Spencer gets to sing – this is a one man show – are charming. Making his professional debut – he has yet to finish drama school – Owen Dennis carries the role off splendidly. He has a good voice, moves well, copes with high heels and no heels, and manages to create a Spencer at the end, much sadder and possibly a little wiser, and patently an older young man than the stars in his eyes youth of the opening number. He is the prime reason for seeing the show. Director Matt Strachan has kept things moving briskly, and there is a clever set David Shields using a couple of mirrors which reverse to become the source of Spencer’s costume changes, which are numerous, and the props he needs to use. There is also a stage for him to do his cabaret turn on which turns into a bed for other activities. But one does feel Spencer should have had more fun in Soho than he is allowed and the fact that he ends HIV positive, while more than likely, is kind of inevitable in pieces like this. It pushes all the expected buttons, but maybe a few more unexpected ones would have helped give it more body. Another problem is that Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has already mined some of this story material as a musical and some of the rest has been in gay life play after gay life play.

Spencer: Owen Dennis.
Director: Matt Strachan.
Musical Director: Aaron Clingham.
Choreographer: Robbie O’Reilly.
Designer: David Shields.
Lighting Designer: Richard Lambert.
Sound Design: Julian Start.
Video Design: David McKeown.
Production photography: Nick Brittain

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