Tag Archives: Mohamed Bangura

Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone

★★★★★

Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone

Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Reviewed -29th July 2022

★★★★★

 

“a fantastic introduction to theatre for young audiences, giving a great alternative to Disney shows with talking animals”

 

Nearly half a century after first appearing in his own movie, ‘Bugsy Malone’ is back. Premiering in the West End in 1983 (starring a certain young Catherine Zeta Jones), the musical about New York gangsters armed with custard pies and paint guns is back on the road in 2022, presented by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in a co-production with the Theatre Royal Bath.

Known for having child actors playing grown-ups, the musical tells the story of a turf war between Fat Sam and Dandy Dan, the latter of whom keeps going after the former’s henchmen and offing them In delightfully non-violent ways. Caught up in this fight us Bugsy Malone, a local boxing promotor, who meets and falls in love with Blousey Brown as she tries to audition to sing at Fat Sam’s club. The rift between Fat Sam and Dandy Dan grows and Bugsy and Blousey find themselves caught in the middle, while dreaming of escaping the gangster scene and fleeing to Hollywood, if they can just avoid getting a custard pie in the face first.

‘Bugsy Malone’ has always been a show favoured by amateur youth groups for obvious reasons, and as such it can be seen as a little stale or twee. Thankfully this production knocks those concerns out of the park, bringing the show to life in a big, bold way. The show feels fresh while remaining timeless with effortless cool, and it blitzes through its running time with a breathless pace. Alan Parker’s script is funny and loaded with nifty gangster cliches, and Paul Williams’ music and lyrics may be nearly 50 years old but still sound great, with the songs being a mix of blues and piano-led funk/honkytonk (funkytonk?). Toes will be guaranteed to tap during “Fat Sam’s Grand Slam” and “Bad Guys”, and the numbers are further brought to life by a talented ensemble delivering Drew McOnie’s choreography with style and energy. Costumes (Jon Bausor) are well thought-out with sharp suits for the boys and fringed flapper-dresses for the girls, and everything really sells 1920s New York in a great way. The set (also by Bausor) and lighting (Philip Gladwell) combine brilliantly to create a “film noir gangster caper” feel to great effect, along with a terrifically-staged car chase scene, bouts of fisticuffs and enough paintguns and custard pies to keep children entertained for hours. As a cohesive whole, director Sean Holmes has created a sharp, funny and visually-impressive show, and is almost criminally entertaining.

Teams of three child actors share each principal role, and based on the Press Night performance, there are going to be a lot of proud parents over the coming months. Quite frankly, the kids are brilliant. Throwing themselves fully into their roles and really delivering the 1920s New York gangster vibe, each performance is spot-on and hugely enjoyable. Gabriel Payne (Bugsy) leads the show in a way no mortal child should ever be able to do, even doing a flawless American accent. Albie Snelson is also excellent as Fat Sam, his mob boss shtick being a wonderful hybrid of Marlon Brando and Joe Pesci, and bringing a huge amount of comedy and personality to his performance. Mia Lakha also stands out as aspiring singer Blousey Brown, having fun banter with Payne’s Bugsy as well as showing off an enviable voice, particulary during torch song number “Ordinary Fool”. Jasmine Sakyiama does a great job as press night’s Tallulah, both in narrating the story and in selling the eponymous “My Name Is Tallulah” number that opens the second act. Other performers on Press Night were Aidan Oti as Fizzy, Cherry Mitra as Lena & Babyface, and Desmond Cole as Dandy Dan, who all did a really entertaining job.

‘Bugsy Malone’ may be funny and tuneful, but it’s also a fantastic introduction to theatre for young audiences, giving a great alternative to Disney shows with talking animals, and offering them something a little more grown-up with enough allure to hopefully get them hooked on theatre. The show ends on “You Give A little Love”, and by time it comes, it’s not just a song, it’s an instruction. Don’t miss this show. It’s a criminally good time.

 

 

Reviewed by Rob Bartley

Photography by Johan Persson

 


Bugsy Malone

Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 14th August then UK Tour continues

 

Previously reviewed by Rob:
The Allesley Silas | ★★★ | Belgrade Theatre | July 2022

 

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Baby Blues

Baby Blues
★★★

Bread & Roses Theatre

Baby Blues

Baby Blues

Bread & Roses Theatre

Reviewed – 8th December 2018

★★★

 

“has a lot of potential with a strong vision and direction and an energetic cast”


Baby Blues is a children’s show, merging physical theatre with verbatim monologues in its attempt to explore post natal depression (PND).

The performance excels in its moments of physical theatre that underscore the whole show. Michael Greenwood’s direction is slick and cleverly thought out. The various movements that accompany the monologues, as well as the choreographed group dances, successfully demonstrate the overwhelming depression, anxiety and claustrophobia that comes with PND. The performers (Tabatha Gregg-Allured, James Douglas, Abi Slade, Eden Tinsey, Mohamed Bangura) really spring to life in these moments – their expressions are impassioned; Tinsey’s performance in particular gave every action a very specific feeling. Excitement is also produced by Alfie Rackley’s music and the use of torch lights, which create drama and utilise the minimalist nature of the show.

Unfortunately, where the show slacks a little is in its verbatim nature. The monologues do exactly what the show needs them to do, which is detail the experience of PND in a way that is easy to understand for its audience, and yet the speeches tend to become a little too matter-of-fact. Despite them being grounded in authenticity, allowing for us to clearly understand the message of the show, they risk becoming slightly disengaging at times, verging on being repetitive. While the stories feel important, they struggle to takes us on a real journey, which is crucial when needing to evoke empathy. As a result, moments that almost reach an emotional peak never really find it.

The show has a lot of potential with a strong vision and direction and an energetic cast. Children’s theatre definitely offers the chance to use a safe space to educate and excite audiences, but the innovative physicality of this show feels let down by the lack of a satisfying arc in the verbatim speeches. Hopefully this company can continue to develop this piece and deliver the important message that PND shouldn’t be a taboo topic, and that those who suffer from it aren’t alone.

Reviewed by Tobias Graham

 

 

 

Baby Blues

Bread & Roses Theatre

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
F*ckingLifeMate | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Talos II | ★★★ | March 2018
The Buzz | ★★★ | May 2018
Once a Year on Blackpool Sands | ★★★★ | June 2018
Richard II | ★★ | August 2018
Like Lions | ★★★★ | October 2018
Metamorphosis | ★★★★ | October 2018
Testament | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Enemies | ★★★ | October 2018
The Gap | ★★★★ | October 2018

 

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