The Choir of Man. The Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street, London WC2 4****. William Russell

Ben Norris, who wrote and performs the linking material in this energetic show calls it a love letter to the pub and it is exactly that. In the bar nine blokes drink, swap jokes, sing, dance and celebrate being blokes. It may sound like a night out to avoid but in fact the show is endearing and touching since the pubs of the land have included many closed down because of the pandemic possibly never to open again. But it is not so much a lament for things lost as a celebration. The Arts stage has been turned into the bar of the Jungle. The guys invite the audience up for a free drink, and up the audience goes, before Norris embarks on his task of telling us what it is all about. People tap dance on table tops, on the bar top, sing songs everyone knows, do amazing things with beer mugs, and everyone on and off stage has a party.
The show started life in 2017 when director Nick Dodson and Andrew Kay had an idea which they eventually put on in the Edinburgh Fringe. The show was a hit, and since then has toured the world, been performed on cruise ships, and not at last has made the West End. There seems no reason why it should not stay for a very long time. The choir’s members can sing, they have perfected their performances over the years, and the manifest camaraderie on stage sets the mood for the evening straight away – they are having a night out they will enjoy and you know straight away that you are going to have one too.
It may be a blokes having a good night out, but the women in the audience were patently also having one. By the end everyone was on their feet applauding.
Then for the very last song they turned off the mikes and sang The Parting Glass just to prove they really can sing without any help.

Matt Beveridge, Tom Brandon, George Bray, Miles Anthony Daley, Daniel Barnett, Alastair Higgins, Freddie Huddleston, Richard lock, Mark Loveday, Ben Norris, Tyler Orphe-Baker.
Director: Nick Goodson.
Musical Director & Choreographer: Freddie Huddleston.
Monologues Writer: Ben Norris.
Set Designer: Oli Townsend.
Ligjhting Designer: Richard Dinnen.
Sound Designer: Sten Severson.
Production photographs: Piers Allardyce.

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