If you’re looking for a wholesome chapter from The Good Book then this is not the show for you. If however you love an innuendo, a lot of queening around and borderline nudity then this just might be the ticket. While it might sometimes fire wide of the mark with some clunky contemporary references or push the ‘sex joke’ button a little too hard, this show is generally a well-executed take on a ‘Biblical’ concept bent completely out of shape.
It’s a great smutty, witty fun night.
In the beginning, this saucy tale of sexual mischief and devilish interventions started life making waves in Hollywood in 2015. It has since transferred from the Edinburgh Festival, bringing with it the principle actors that made it popular north of the border. The musical’s new home is the King’s Head Theatre, notable as an unfunded venue with unusual Equity compliance and holds the title as the first theatre pub since Shakespeare’s time. As one might imagine for Upper Street in Islington, space is at a premium but it gives it a rough around the edges charm which is well-suited to new material. It is quite hot in the performing space and that’s before Adam, Eve and Steve turn up pushing the powers of the fig leaf to its very limits.
Beelzebub (Stephen McGlynn) has put something kinky in God’s plan. When the Almighty attempts to bring Adam a mate, it turns out to be a he instead of a she. Oh matron. Eve (Hayley Hampson) eventually makes it to the garden at which point Adam (Joseph Robinson) faces a dilemma: is it Eve or his extremely camp, first ever best mate Steve (Dale Adams) that he’ll choose?
Robinson is key to establishing a plausible plot in the chaos. He must maintain a naive cluelessness while those more ‘knowledgeable’ around him fight for his attention. Adam is in love with the first friend he has ever known, but as he doesn’t really know what love is yet, Steve’s shrill overtones fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, God has told him he should be with Eve. In this, Adam seems authentically confused.
The music is nothing sensational, but does the job of carrying all the jokes and opportunities for physical gags that the lyrics have to offer. There are references to Donald Trump and the like, which fall a little flat, although there is a brilliant rhyming of Eden and Sweden which is genuinely brilliant. Another line about trimming hedges in a song about the duties of marriage is the best laugh of the night followed by a more risqué suggestion about sausages. The humour is bawdy and will vary with individual tastes. It does border crass but not too often.
McGlynn shows his true professionalism as the puppet master of events and has his best moment among many singing the Lonely Hell Blues which both shows off his West End quality voice and is an interesting look at his character. He actually faces his own demons too, torn in his own way with an important choice to make. In his red sequined neckerchief it is as he sings, arguably all about him.
The 75-minute running time does sag in the middle once the problem is established and the audience waits for its inevitable conclusion. It’s one of those things in a concept-driven drama – it’s hard to maintain suspense throughout as the sheen of originality becomes normality. But hell, it’s not the Bible they’re writing here. It’s a great smutty, witty fun night.