Tag Archives: Ben Mabberley



Neon 194



“Keith Allen is clearly having a ball playing the scheming and corrupt Stone”

You’re a Wanker – is the opening number of Rehab the Musical and when the end comes, the audience leaves the venue merrily singing it.

It’s the hedonistic nineties when paparazzi, selling stories to the gutter press and dodgy rehabilitation clinics are all the rage. Out of control popster Kid Pop (Christian Maynard) is papped snorting cocaine; so the judge gives him 60 days in rehab, to mend his ways. But his dastardly manager Malcolm Stone (Keith Allen), sets about to keep Kid on the front pages by putting a mole inside The Grange, to dish the dirt on our Kid.

But how do you heal in 60 days? By meeting all the other inmates staying at The Grange. Meet the joyous selection of addicts with big and honest hearts. With addictions to food, drink, gambling and sex; via tanning and cheese addictions we hear their stories as they reveal their innermost obsessions in their daily therapy circle. And it’s here that the real heart of this musical is found through these extreme but loveable characters, brought to life by a line-up of stalwart and talented West End musical theatre performers including: John Barr as tanning addict Barry Bronze, Rebecca Thornhill as ex Bond girl and alcoholic Jane Killy, and Oscar Conlon-Morrey as the heart-breaking Phil Newman whose song Ordinary Girl is a highlight.

“the big ballads are sung with big belting vocals”

Christian Maynard, as Kid Pop, has all the moves, but is not able to bring such a two dimensional character to life, making his journey to redemption hard to believe. Keith Allen is clearly having a ball playing the scheming and corrupt Stone in toupee and large moustache – and even manages to talk his way through his songs with aplomb. Jodie Steele, as Stone’s sidekick Beth, is underwritten; but we get a glimpse of her steel in the song Die at 27.

Rehab the Musical has music and lyrics by Grant Black and Murray Lachlan Young, with book by Elliot Davis – they all have their own personal history in rehab, addiction and recovery. Addiction is a serious subject but Rehab does have a few laughs too – plus some seriously bad jokes taking the names of Dame Shirley Bassey and Sir Tom Jones in vain – all so nineties. The lyrics aren’t so poetic and the music is in every pop style going, and the big ballads are sung with big belting vocals. With a clever and simple set by Simon Kenny, the show is slickly choregraphed by director Gary Lloyd, whose full company snorting cocaine routine in Everyone’s Taking Cocaine is brilliantly grotesque.

This is the inaugural show at Neon 194 – and a high calibre theatre in the round it has turned into. However, for a new musical with a great live band playing, it is a travesty that the band are nowhere to be seen. It has become part of the course in musical theatre not to see the musicians – and that does effect the whole experience of a musical.

Today, the woke world is more aware of mental health and addiction – so taking us back to the nineties is maybe an unnecessary step too far?


Reviewed on 16th January 2024

by Debbie Rich

Photography by Mark Senior




Recently reviewed shows:

EXHIBITIONISTS | ★★ | King’s Head Theatre | January 2024
ALAN TURING – A MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY | ★★ | Riverside Studios | January 2024
2:22 A GHOST STORY | ★★★ | Royal & Derngate | January 2024
THE ENFIELD HAUNTING | ★½ | Ambassadors Theatre | January 2024
KIM’S CONVENIENCE | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | January 2024



Click here to see our Recommended Shows page


Tarantino Live


Riverside Studios

TARANTINO LIVE at the Riverside Studios


Tarantino Live

“From the prologue to the epilogue the atmosphere is quite electric.”


Most of us live in the real universe most of the time. For over thirty years now, Quentin Tarantino has led us intermittently into the ‘realer than real’ universe. There are similarities, and connections to real-life sources but everything is “more”. Exaggerated, graphic, stylised, violent. The unreal becomes reality, and vice versa. Most of us have dipped – or dived – into (at varying depths) the Tarantino Cinematic Universe and emerged with the soundtrack still swimming around our heads. The films make us listen to the music in a different way. “Tarantino Live” takes the songs and brings them to life once more in a stunning, genre-defying, mash-up, immersive rock musical.

Woven into this bold, full-throated rock concert is the iconic Tarantino dialogue. It doesn’t matter in the slightest whether you’re a die-hard fan, or completely unfamiliar with the films; what unfolds before your eyes, and ears, will make you look at theatre in a different way. Most of the music stems from the era of vinyl but the structure of the show is built around the modern concept of the playlist. Split into chapters rather than scenes there is no chronological logic. The points of view, close ups, wide angles, jump cuts and crossfades are scattered around the studio like gunfire. The action takes place on the stage as well as around us and amongst us. It is relentless but we can’t get enough.

It’s full title, “Tarantino Live: Fox Force Five & The Tyranny of Evil Men”, loosely sums up the concept. The ‘Fox Force Five’ comprise a group of superwomen made up of five of Tarantino’s most iconic female characters as they take on the ‘Tyranny of Evil Men’ in a battle of revenge. The concept gets swept aside, however, by the sheer power and skill of the vocal performances. To single anyone out would be merely to reel off the entire cast list, just as to attempt to match the actors with the characters would be like trying to follow a chaotic medley of accelerated rolling credits. It is possible, but my word count advises against it. Needless to say, the talent on display is so much more than a triple threat. The lines between orchestra and cast, lead and ensemble, actor, singer, dancer, musician are blurred.

The disciplines are brought together seamlessly, the show having evolved over the last decade. ‘For The Record’, led by adapter and director Anderson Davis with associate director and choreographer Sumie Maeda, launched the show at The Bourbon Room, a small bar on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles in 2010. Immediately a ‘must see’ cabaret show, it was awarded the seal of approval from Tarantino himself, and along the way has been adapted in response to each new addition to Tarantino’s canon of work.

From the prologue to the epilogue the atmosphere is quite electric. It is simultaneously like a roller coaster ride but also not. It’s not Hollywood, nor film, nor musical theatre, nor rock gig. Yet it is all of those. It throws in the air different scenes from different movies, but when they land there is a kind of beginning and middle and end. But even if it doesn’t make sense – from the prologue to the epilogue we are transfixed. Motionless while our heads spin. And we could go on the journey again and again. It is a must, whether you’re a Tarantino geek or if you’ve never seen a Tarantino film in your life. At least you’ll be familiar with the (thirty-plus) classic songs. But not in this context.

Unlike anything you’ll come across in London at the moment, “Tarantino Live” is, in a nutshell, theatre with attitude.


Reviewed on 27th June 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Julie Edwards



Previously reviewed at this venue:


Killing The Cat | ★★ | March 2023
Cirque Berserk! | ★★★★★ | February 2023
David Copperfield | ★★★ | February 2023
A Level Playing Field | ★★★★ | February 2022
The Devil’s in the Chair | ★★★★ | February 2022


Click here to read all our latest reviews