With an admittedly clever pun for a title, this misplaced family comedy misses the mark in its attempt to entertain, both musically and humorously. With a cast of six, the musical tells the tale of a pioneering American dentist, played well by Bryan Bounds (who also wrote the show), who moves to a small Yorkshire village in order to save an NHS dentist’s surgery from closing down.
While a neat concept, there were a few elements of the production which unfortunately served to let down the show. The acting from the small cast was generally good throughout, although towards the end it did get a little more hysterical and over-the-top than may have been necessary. The stand-out performances were from Bryan Bounds playing the American protagonist and Jake Bounds playing Jake, an early-teen with behavioral problems who hates dentists.
The music was provided by a two-man-band of pianist and clarinet, underscoring scenes and providing backing for the musical numbers. Unfortunately the songs throughout the production generally seemed to follow one musical theme and were not distinguishable enough from each other to create a particularly interesting score – aside from one jazz number sung by Travis’s slimy opposition, Roger Glass. While the lyrics did get the message of the songs across, too often they seem clumsily written and did not fit with the music as well as they could have.
The actual story of the show, while understandable enough, lacked enough emotional involvement from the characters to create a rapport between them and the audience – an often fatal flaw in writing, as this creates a rift which can alienate the viewers from the action. Some unclear time-jumps (with the protagonist ordering someone’s Christmas present in one scene, then planning a pancake day party in the next) and a seemingly rushed ending also served to make the musical feel a little disjointed. I can recognise a good concept behind the show, but it requires a little more work before it will be ready for Fringe success.