Tag Archives: Danny Kaan

FUN AT THE BEACH ROMP-BOMP-A-LOMP!!

★★★

Southwark Playhouse Borough

FUN AT THE BEACH ROMP-BOMP-A-LOMP!! at Southwark Playhouse Borough

★★★

“If at times the show feels like it might sink beneath the waves, the performers are on hand to rescue it”

It’s hard to believe that we are barely three weeks away from the longest day of the year. The first day of summer. The clouds over London are grey, and a chill wind cuts through concrete avenues peopled by grim figures hiding under umbrellas. Not a Hawaiian shirt in sight, and thoughts of romping on a beach are… well – just thoughts. Vague dreams or distant memories.

Until, that is, you pass through the doors of Southwark Playhouse into the surreal world that is “Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!!”. A world where the sun shines, albeit still only metaphorically, and where you’d have to be a real grouch to stop your mouth twitching into the shape of a smile. You have to admire the show’s creators, and their candid confession about the inspiration behind this romp through musical theatre. Having witnessed a jukebox musical that was (in their words) ‘staggeringly painful’ to watch, Martin Landry (book) and Brandon Lambert (music and lyrics) set themselves the task of writing a musical that was even worse.

And there you have it. Every step of the way Landry and Lambert expected the axe to fall, the plug to be pulled and test audiences to walk away. However, judging by the gathering at Southwark, they can happily bathe in, and surf on, the waves of laughter that come crashing down on their gag-riddled shores. It is not quite a jukebox musical. The musical numbers are all parodies and pastiches of well-known originals. The show is itself a parody. You begin by thinking it is making fun of the genre, but all it is really doing is making fun of itself. The butt of its own joke.

 

 

A simple premise. Each song title is a synonym. ‘It’s In His Kiss’ becomes ‘It’s In His Peck’ and makes great fun of the banal question and answer lyrical format. ‘Locomotion’ is now ‘The Ocean Motion’, The Beach Boys ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ morphs into ‘Surf America’ (genius, eh?), ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ is repackaged as ‘Mature Women Don’t Whine’… you get the drift. ‘Such fun’ – as Patricia Hodge would say in joyful desperation in a certain television sitcom. Which is the point. Don’t even try to make sense of the book onto which the songs are dolloped like an over-generous scoop of ice-cream onto a soggy, wafer-thin cone.

A motley crew of drifters skim onto the sun-drenched seaside to enter a bizarre ‘King – or Queen – of the beach’ competition. The challenges start out innocently enough before descending into a bit of a bloodbath. Meanwhile, virginal love matches swiftly nosedive into scandalous sagas of submarine adultery, and the supernatural is occasionally thrown onto the sand like twisted pieces of flotsam. A lot of the humour relies on repetition and stretching the gag to breaking point, but there are gems to be picked up if you’re in the right mood to detect them.

If at times the show feels like it might sink beneath the waves, the performers are on hand to rescue it, like breezy, Westcoast lifeguards relishing the fact they have the best job in the world. Their tongue-in-cheek sense of fun is infectious as they splash on the factor fifty cliché’s. Yet there is little protection to be had from the relentless cheesiness and silliness, so all that’s left is to just let go, ignore your bewilderment, and join in the fun. We are powerless. Even the privilege of making fun of it is taken away from us – they are doing such a good job of it themselves. Therein lies its genius, exemplified by some artfully and brilliantly timed lines of dialogue. “Even the stupidest musical can survive if it has one decent song”. Quad erat demonstradum. What more can I say!


FUN AT THE BEACH ROMP-BOMP-A-LOMP!! at Southwark Playhouse Borough

Reviewed on 30th May 2024

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Danny Kaan

 

 

 

 

 

Previously reviewed at Southwark Playhouse venues:

SAPPHO | ★★ | May 2024
CAPTAIN AMAZING | ★★★★★ | May 2024
WHY I STUCK A FLARE UP MY ARSE FOR ENGLAND | ★★★★★ | April 2024
SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE VALLEY OF FEAR | ★★½ | March 2024
POLICE COPS: THE MUSICAL | ★★★★ | March 2024
CABLE STREET – A NEW MUSICAL | ★★★ | February 2024
BEFORE AFTER | ★★★ | February 2024
AFTERGLOW | ★★★★ | January 2024
UNFORTUNATE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF URSULA THE SEA WITCH A MUSICAL PARODY | ★★★★ | December 2023
GARRY STARR PERFORMS EVERYTHING | ★★★½ | December 2023
LIZZIE | ★★★ | November 2023
MANIC STREET CREATURE | ★★★★ | October 2023

FUN AT THE BEACH

FUN AT THE BEACH

Click here to see our Recommended Shows page

 

BEFORE AFTER

★★★

Southwark Playhouse Borough

BEFORE AFTER at Southwark Playhouse Borough

★★★

“Director Georgia Rankcom steers the show deftly through its ninety minutes, not allowing it to drag, and the overall show claims a unique quality”

From the moment Ben and Ami meet on a hillside we know we are looking out onto a lush, Romcom landscape. A warm glow washes over us as the filmic, easy-listening chords are plucked from the piano, cello and guitar accompaniment. The dialogue is snappy and the premise is quirky. The delivery is faultless and at the same time effortless. We hope we are going to be jolted out of our comfort zone, but instead of being challenged, we allow ourselves simply to be drawn into the story. Which is a delight, in no small way due to the polished performances of Jacob Fowler and Grace Mouat.

The chance meeting on the hillside is preordained. Ben and Ami have both been here before. Ami remembers everything but Ben is a blank canvas. The backstory is revealed swiftly enough, and it is now up to the couple to piece together their second chance at a happy ending. Ben has the disadvantage. He remembers nothing of their past relationship due to amnesia caused by a car accident just at the point things were starting to go horribly wrong with them. Ami decides not to reveal their past together, leading him on for too long. Her reasons are slightly implausible, but a necessary device to stoke the narrative with the tension it needs.

The story swings back and forth from the present to the past, each episode giving us more insight into the ‘before’ and ‘after’ relationship. There are the usual pitfalls, jealousies and arguments, but Timothy Knapman’s crisp and often witty text give them a fresh makeover, and Fowler and Mouat pitch the characterisation with a relaxed authenticity. They are both highly watchable and in fine voice throughout. Refreshingly no amplification is used, and the balance is spot on as the couple project over the trio of musicians. There is a chamber music quality that allows Stuart Matthew Prices’ lyrics to reach us, unfiltered and crystal clear.

There is a comfortable predictability and solutions become a bit oversimplified, that we long for more hazards, or twists, to trip us up. Similarly, the score drives along at a safe rate with few gear changes. Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy, not least the chemistry between our two lovebirds. Director Georgia Rankcom steers the show deftly through its ninety minutes, not allowing it to drag, and the overall show claims a unique quality. During the moments of dialogue, we look forward to the next musical number, and during the songs we look forward to the next spoken scene. In no way a criticism of either, it is testament to the fine balance and connection between lyricist, composer and writer. Scenes mould seamlessly into song and vice versa, just as past and present intertwine as though in a well-choreographed waltz. Lines are echoed and repeated, taking on a new meaning depending in which time zone they are spoken.

Originally produced at the same venue during lockdown as a live streamed rehearsed reading, the reception back then was one of eager anticipation for the show to be fully realised on the stage. That was before, and this is after. The show feels as though it is still somewhere in the middle, and there is still another ‘after’ to come. A central premise of the musical is the question that asks, ‘is what comes after better than before’. This revival affirms the positivity that the story reflects, and we look forward to it standing the test of time.


BEFORE AFTER at Southwark Playhouse Borough

Reviewed on 9th February 2024

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Danny Kaan

 

 

Previously reviewed at Southwark Playhouse venues

AFTERGLOW | ★★★★ | January 2024
UNFORTUNATE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF URSULA THE SEA WITCH A MUSICAL PARODY | ★★★★ | December 2023
GARRY STARR PERFORMS EVERYTHING | ★★★½ | December 2023
LIZZIE | ★★★ | November 2023
MANIC STREET CREATURE | ★★★★ | October 2023
THE CHANGELING | ★★★½ | October 2023
RIDE | ★★★ | July 2023
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS … | ★★★★★ | May 2023
STRIKE! | ★★★★★ | April 2023
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH | ★★★★ | March 2023
SMOKE | ★★ | February 2023
THE WALWORTH FARCE | ★★★ | February 2023

BEFORE AFTER

BEFORE AFTER

Click here to see our Recommended Shows page