Tag Archives: Rebecca Crankshaw

Tickle: The Musical

★★★★

King’s Head Theatre

Tickle: The Musical

Tickle: The Musical

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 16th October 2019

★★★★

 

“the full-on Las Vegas style finale, ‘What Would Julie Andrews Do?’ sends the audience out into the night on a whoosh of feathers, fantasy and fun”

 

Tickle is based on a true story, and invites the audience into the strange world of competitive endurance tickling. Best friends Chris and Callum, skint and stuck in a boring town, get recruited as a tickle team by savvy businesswoman Davina Diamond, on behalf of her boss Tina Tickle. They quickly rise to the very top and are making more money than they could have dreamed of, but neither the tickling world, nor their friendship, is as straightforward as it seems. Chris Burgess (book, music and lyrics) has fashioned a delightful and playfully sexy new musical from this tale, and his four strong cast, directed by Robert McWhir, and with fabulous piano accompaniment from musical director David Eaton, do him proud.

The show’s opening number – Drab Town – is let down by its choreography, which lacks clarity, but we get a taster of James McDowell’s lovely voice, which only opens out more as the show goes on. This is McDowell’s professional musical debut, and we will most assuredly be hearing more from him. He doesn’t quite convince as a working class lad, however, and as his voice becomes richer and stronger, so his accent morphs back into his native tones. His performance becomes more natural as a result, but his character – Chris – seems to have entirely changed. This lack of consistency doesn’t really matter in the context of this light-hearted musical confection, but is something to watch. Ben Brooker, as Callum, on the other hand, is fully believable throughout, as Chris’ lovelorn best friend, but his vocal strength is inconsistent, and he doesn’t always fully hit his musical mark.

Amy Sutton is terrific as Davina, and owns the stage with sparkling charisma and a powerful, clear singing voice. Her introductory solo – the splendidly funny ‘It’s not Gay’ – gives the show the injection of oomph it needs, and allows it to drive forwards with energy and chutzpah. In this, she is aided and abetted by Rich Watkins, who is a marvellous drag Tina Tickle. Tina is a larger than life, tragi-comic creation, switching between poignant loneliness and battle-axe camp, with more than a whiff of Norma Desmond, and Watkins plays her with delicious performative relish. Tina and Davina are a formidable team, though, again, they are let down by clunky choreography, noticeable especially in their duet, ‘The Tickle Twosome’.

For the most part, the show zips along, and wears its combination of titillation, tenderness and tinsel with aplomb. There are laughs aplenty, and the full-on Las Vegas style finale, ‘What Would Julie Andrews Do?’ sends the audience out into the night on a whoosh of feathers, fantasy and fun. Just perfect to tickle your fancy on a chilly October night.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Peter H Davies

 

kings head theatre

Tickle: The Musical

King’s Head Theatre until 26th October

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Coral Browne: This F***Ing Lady! | ★★ | May 2019
This Island’s Mine | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | June 2019
Margot, Dame, The Most Famous Ballerina In The World | ★★★ | July 2019
Mating In Captivity | ★★★★ | July 2019
Oddball | ★★★½ | July 2019
How We Begin | ★★★★ | August 2019
World’s End | ★★★★ | August 2019
Stripped | ★★★★ | September 2019
The Elixir Of Love | ★★★★★ | September 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Up Pompeii

★★★★

Shaw Theatre

Up Pompeii

Up Pompeii

Shaw Theatre

Reviewed – 12th October 2019

★★★★

 

“an unashamed feel-good performance … a hoot”

 

Up Pompeii is a cult British comedy classic. Starring Frankie Howerd – in probably his most well-known and best-loved role – it ran on British television from 1969-1975, and spawned a successful spin-off film in 1971. Today’s audio revival was an affectionate homage, and an unashamed feel-good performance. There is no denying that the ribald, double-entendre-ridden campery of Up Pompeii and the Carry On films is dated, and as such now leaves many people cold. The Saturday afternoon audience at the Shaw Theatre was one of fans: of the original series, of Frankie Howerd, and of radio. As such, the performers could relax and have fun, knowing that they were preaching to the converted. And, for those who love it, it was indeed lots of fun. A hoot. 

Manning the centre microphone, David Benson took on Frankie Howerd’s role of Lurcio, the savvy slave who keeps his master and mistress’ household together. It was a wonderful performance, and Benson was clearly having a ball. Known for his brilliant portrayals of Noël Coward and Kenneth Williams, he managed to capture Howerd’s trademark arch, high-camp delivery, whilst at the same time making it his own. The ad-libs (both scripted and unscripted) were delicious, and the out-take moments (‘I fucked that up last time, we’d better do that again!’) all added to the fun. The supporting cast was terrific – Jilly Breeze an unforgettable Senna the Soothsayer; Jack Lane as the callow youth Nausius; Cleo Rocos as sexpot Suspenda, Frazer Hines as the master, Ludicrus Sextus, and Barnaby Eaton-Jones (also director/producer and one of the show’s writers) as fabulously stupid Kretinus – but the afternoon belonged to Benson.

Farce of this kind relies on quickfire delivery and running gags, and becomes funnier as it builds. Benson was a masterful conductor, and led this afternoon’s audience – and his fellow cast members to boot – into a veritable crescendo of silliness. The script was a little patchy, perhaps owing to the plethora of writers whose voices helped bring it to life (this audio adaptation was written by Barnaby Eaton-Jones, with Daniel McGachy and Iain McLaughlin; adapted from the successful spin-off stage play by Miles Treddinick, and based on the original characters and BBC TV scripts devised by Talbot Rothwell and Sid Colin) but Benson’s performance energy helped paper over the cracks, and we were swept along with him when the comedy flagged.

These performances were recorded for radio to mark the 50th anniversary of Up Pompeii’s first broadcast, and will be available to download from Amazon, iTunes and spitefulpuppet.com in November. Highly recommended for Frankie Howerd fans everywhere.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Kim Jones

 

Shaw Theatre

Up Pompeii

Shaw Theatre

 

Up Pompeii; A 50th Anniversary Audio Revival will be released 29th November 2019 – click here for details

 

 

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews