What makes a lot of cash in the Musical Theatre? Juke Box musicals: Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You, Jersey Boys. Film Adaptations: Mary Poppins, Lion King, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. How about combining both ideas: a musical version of a hit 80s film Desperately Seeking Susan with a musical score packed full of the song hits of Blondie? A sure fire winner? No! American writer and performer Peter Michael Marino wrote just that show, which ran for a grand total of 4 weeks in London in 2007 and he lived to tell the tale…just!
Anyone who loves musical theatre and the process of its construction from the first germ of an idea to the opening night will be amused, touched, and despairing at Marino’s cathartic tale. This could have easily been an hour bemoaning what went wrong with Desperately Seeking Susan: the Musical, or a rant about the mistakes made, or blaming everyone else. However, Marino takes a philosophical view about the collective cock-ups on his painfully funny journey from page to stage.
This is not just a story of a musical flop. Marino’s stand up monologue cleverly serves the dual purpose of also being a hysterical comment on the language and cultural barriers between Britain and USA. Self confessed ‘Angloholic’, his observations are witty and only too true, with comments about the different meaning of words and phrases such as ‘fag’, ‘Are you alright?’ and ‘cheers’ raising many a smile and guffaw from the audience - although I don’t think his comment about using the word ‘cheers’ in many a Noel Coward play is strictly correct.
Marino’s machinegun fire delivery is well honed and the audience hangs onto every word. His technique is a lesson to all, and his endearing quality keeps the audience entertained for the full hour. Every word of the sorry tale is believable, although I felt Marino let himself down as a writer with a twist in the tale about a fake illness that seemed unnecessary and perhaps created doubts about the rest of his tale.
Although Marino explains the intricacies and terminology of the musical theatre world, one wonders if a general public would be able to empathise or follow quite that easily. That said, this is a thoroughly entertaining performance.