Zschieschow and Megan Clifton return to the stage as comedy duo ‘Grandma’, and
given the evening of continuously bizarre situations that the pair find
themselves in, it is at first rather difficult to determine what direction
the audience themselves couldn’t help but laugh
It was in these slightly more spontaneous moments where the act could truly test their improvisational capabilities. The way this would work, is that the narrator would announce the topic they would have to centre their improvised song on, and the duo would have to conjure up something immediately. It’s a technique employed by countless improvisational troupes around the world. Unfortunately, at times the songs in which they had to improvise ended up just being a repetition of the same lyric over and over again with little professional creativity. One example of this was when imitating Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf, Zcheischow and Clifton concluded with simply repeating the names of the performers towards the end of the song.
Fortunately, they were received by a more forgiving audience – a lot of that deriving from a fair proportion being friends or family to the performers – although had the audience been less accommodating than this one, their efforts may have been judged far less favourably.
However, its lack of innovative style and professional courtesy was rather fitting for the obvious and self-reflexive humour that Grandma! The Musical tries to evoke. Unusual though it may seem, the performers regularly break out of character and their sloppy use of props added a touch of self-aware amateurism to this piece of musical theatre. Whether deliberate or accidental, these features helped add an element of charm to the production, despite its amateur style. The instances of immersive theatre helped the audience warm towards the efforts of the performers and a somewhat appreciation for those involved in making it a feel-good production.
In spite of the narrator (Daniel Palmer)’s affectionate hugs with members of the audience and Grandma’s claim to know nothing about musicals, Zschieschow and Clifton do push their ignorance to the point of ridiculousness with their unimaginative lyrics which had too much reliance on repetition. Yet despite it all, the duo appear to successfully create their desired effect. The enjoyment in performing to a sold-out audience was evident in the performers’ expressions and the audience themselves couldn’t help but laugh by the end; although presumably because otherwise they would have lost the plot, which was definitely lacking in the actual musical.
Despite not being a show that will broaden one’s horizons, there is a degree of charm that carries the audience through all the ridiculousness that the performance brings. For anyone at a loss of an evening plan, Grandma! The Musical is a suitable solution. Just don’t expect to be thinking about it long after you leave the auditorium.