Timpson the Musical
King’s Head Theatre
Reviewed – 19th February 2019
“While the show is undoubtedly entertaining, it’s difficult not to wish for more thought behind the jokes”
We all know Timpson, the high street shop for your shoe-repair and key-cutting needs. But few know how the company came to be. The true story isn’t all that interesting: William Timpson and his brother-in-law Walter Joyce decided to go into business together. So Gigglemug Theatre have “invented a new one instead” (as their opening number goes): a musical Romeo and Juliet spoof, set in Victorian London, featuring Monty Montashoe and Keeleigh Keypulet as young lovers from two warring households.
Written and directed by Sam Cochrane and Chris Baker, Timpson: The Musical is pure slapstick. It’s a creative premise and an hour of sophomoric silliness that’s heavy on camp but unfortunately short on wit. The show’s humour is based on randomness rather than cleverness, which will work for some, but not others. ‘Keys are tiny saws!’ ‘I invented a dog door-flap, but for people! A people-flap!’ Someone runs screaming across the stage for no reason (something I’ve seen executed more successfully before). There are mimed punches and pratfalls. While the show is undoubtedly entertaining, it’s difficult not to wish for more thought behind the jokes. Some freshness of perspective would lift the comedy. Charlie Chaplin once said that the better joke is not the woman slipping on the banana peel; it’s the woman stepping over the banana peel and falling down a manhole. Timpson is a regular slip on a banana peel.
Although none of the songs are particularly memorable, they’re fun, and the singing is very well done all around. It’s a high-energy musical, and the actors give one hundred percent. Sabrina Messer is likeable as Keeleigh. James Stirling and Rachael Chomer are solid as Master Keypulet and Lady Montashoe. Alex Prescot (Man 1) deserves special commendation for his parody of multi-roling. Cochrane (Man 2) and Madeleine Gray (Monty) have impressive stamina. However, somehow, in a musical that is unmitigated camp, Gray’s performance is noticeably hammy. She pulls faces and leans heavily into physical and verbal jokes that are not sound enough to hold the weight. The exaggeration could use some dialling back. Regardless, the performers are all on full-force. This is not a show that will have you surreptitiously checking the time.
The audience last night exemplified the divisiveness of Timpson’s humour: one section never missed a cue to laugh, while in mine I may have heard a cricket on several occasions. A good litmus test is this: if you find the thought of keys being ‘tiny saws’ very funny, go see the show. If not, be warned that incredibly this joke is the crux of both the comedy and the story.
Reviewed by Addison Waite
Photography courtesy Gigglemug Theatre
Timpson the Musical
King’s Head Theatre until 9th March
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: