“The Soho Theatre is a place to experiment. Cuckoo tried, it didn’t fail but it didn’t completely succeed”
The Soho Theatre is a hotbed for new comedy and drama. It is a testing ground for the weird and wonderful to see if it sinks or swims in the ocean of live entertainment. Currently on offer in the upstairs space is ‘Cuckoo’. Set in a small Irish village, we follow its adolescent inhabitants, as some struggle through the opportunity of leaving home, while others struggle through not being able to leave at all. Cuckoo is a story of gender, small town thinking, friendship and fried chicken.
The story written by Lisa Carroll follows the mute gender non-conforming Pingu (Elise Heaven), the loud mouth but often humorous Iona (Caitriona Ennis) and the gang of Pockets (Colin Campbell), Trix (Peter Newington) and Toller (Sade Malone).
Cuckoo itself is interesting exploring something that most people have dealt with, leaving home and is it worth it? It’s structured well and packs a lot of humour, especially into tiny Iona’s character. Despite this, the story seems to drag. The running time of an hour and fifty minutes could be cut by at least half an hour to tighten everything up. By the end, it felt sloppy and almost irrelevant because of this overly long runtime.
What is evident though, is that the performances are solid and that can partially be attributed to Debbie Hannan’s adept direction. However, Caitriona Ennis as Iona is the stand out performer. Her comedic timing is really what saves the show and makes the full running time a little easier to cope with.
The Soho Theatre is a place to experiment. Cuckoo tried, it didn’t fail but it didn’t completely succeed. This show needs a bit of work, but with changes, it could hugely entertaining.
Brush up on your brocabulary because we’re heading to guyville. A place of bros, dudes, beer and chilli cheese fries. Bromance: The Dudesical is a gut-bustingly hilarious pop rock musical. It follows the story of Tom (Cellen Chugg Jones), Dick (Robbie Smith) and Harry (Richard J Hunt); three bros doing bro things. But on St Patricks day they come across Marty (Joshua Gannon), the opposite of a bro. We follow their quest of taking Marty on the road of bro.
First, I want to say, this show is brilliant. The music by Kyle Ewalt is genius. What starts off as a pop rock musical, skilfully glides through a plethora of music influences, from Disco to Country to Jazz. The lyrics by Michael Ian Walker and Kyle Ewalt are well crafted and add an additional layer of humour to the already hilarious script. My particular song favourite was ‘Heartburn’ performed by Harry.
With the wonderful material in play, the execution is pivotal. The five member cast succeeded in that regard. They are strong, full of energy and committed to what they are doing. Their energy pulsates throughout the entire fun, silly and irreverent two hour show; particularly in the stylised choreography. All were excellent, but the leading front bro for me was Robbie Smith as Dick. He is unstoppable in this role, creating a fully realised bro, commanding the stage and delivering the role with such humour and precision. A special mention must also go to Esme Laudat who faultlessly picks up all the female roles.
Despite everything that is going for this show, there are a few areas that need working on. There were a couple of stumbles with staging and words, and with the calibre of material and talent on stage, I expected better. The sound (Joe Morris) needs serious work; the mics of the performers seemed to cut in and out quite regularly and when they did work, the balance didn’t seem right, so you could hear some but not others. On a more positive note, the set design (Dan Gillingwater) in the small studio space of The Other Palace was very clever.
Bromance: The Dudesical is excellent. It has its problems, but they are easily fixable. I came out of The Other Palace, feeling uplifted by this show. Go check it out, bro.