Cut the Mustard

Cut the Mustard has what can only be described as an offbeat premise: it’s almost time for a live broadcast during a not-so-popular slot on Icelandic radio. As we wait for the countdown, Georgia Bruce and Jack Chisnall, playing exaggerated versions of themselves, entertain us, their studio audience, with repartee and acoustic duets.

This is a sharp medley of delights – at its best when the pair is together, in harmony.

Carefully fine-tuned songs on sophistication and undesirable Britain are as witty as they come, but the real innovation is apparent in sentimental pastiches playfully mocking future newborns and French GCSEs. Any time Bruce unleashes her folky guttural sound is a winner for me. Her presence on stage, particularly as the shop worker with R&B dreams whose hand gestures scream ‘wannabe’, is nothing short of sublime. Chisnall provides the quieter stuff and the deadpan putdowns, but how can he compete with a rolicking ode to féminisme ripped from un manuel scolaire (or a supremely-planted ‘slut drop’ for that matter)?

The skits are bitty and brilliant in spite of – or perhaps thanks to – some audio hitches. Impetus is lost towards the end as the troublesome two split temporarily, though it’s worth bearing with for the rocking outro. Amplification would be advisable for greater impact at louder moments (‘club hit’, I want more of you). The duo would then be able to match the unlikely energy of PowerPoint cutscenes (Who Wants To Be a Millionaire set off a giggle fit). There are minor inconsistencies too: a hedgehog-related screenplay doesn’t involve hedgehogs, and the script itself is a page or two long.

But Bruce and Chisnall played off the late-arriving audience and an overly hot room with impressive professionalism. This is a sharp medley of delights – at its best when the pair is together, in harmony (sometimes strumming, sometimes chatting). The smart ending is proof. Bruce mentions she’s 21 just before serenading her unborn babe. I could only dream of writing and performing something of this quality at our age.

Reviews by Jake A Ellamen

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The Blurb

A musical double-act is going live on air. It's Jack and Georgia's big break, but have they rehearsed enough? Or will it all just go horribly, horribly wrong? Armed with more instruments than you can shake a stick at (at least three), Cut the Mustard provides an experience of tuneful entertainment and interactive fun. Written and performed by the incoming presidents of the Oxford Revue, this musical comedy experience is full of songs and silliness. Come see it. 'Beautifully performed' (Scotsman). 'One heck of a show' ***** (BroadwayBaby.com).

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