Pop band related shows seem to be something of a trend nowadays. Although I am a fan of both Queen and ABBA, I shudder at the thought of having to sit through We Will Rock You or Mamma Mia. A play inspired by and containing the music of The Smiths seemed appealing to me. You don’t get much darker stuff than The Smiths, I thought, I better be prepared for some serious emotion.I thought wrong. The script was weak, predictable, and completely over-sentimental, which was the show’s main downfall. Tragic things did happen to our protagonist, William, but they happened for absolutely no reason. He falls in love with a girl he has no obvious chemistry with; his best friend dies. But why? So that these things could be vaguely related to Smiths songs. The best example of these random events is William’s last visit to his best friend Rick, in which Rick asked William if they could have sex. We never really found out William’s response either way; the incident or anything remotely related to it was not mentioned before or after. I had no idea what the piece was trying to say.
Joe Murray, sweet as he was, was not particularly strong. As the only actor in the play he did little to recreate the situations he was talking about. Occasionally he would have to act out other characters. He achieved this just by speaking in a slightly different voice each time. I was confused as to whether or not he was trying to play them or simply distinguish them from himself. This may have been due to the quality of the script, as these other characters only had about 15 lines between them. Either way, it was uninteresting. I can only suppose that Murray was cast due to his slightly Morrisey-esque voice, which always came as a slight pleasurable relief from the dire script and acting. This does not make the show redeemable however, any Smiths fan would enjoy hearing the songs if they were well sung. We may as well have been at a mediocre Morrisey tribute act.
To me, it felt like the playwright, Alex Broun, had tried to squash huge themes and ideas from Smiths songs into a very tiny box and they just were not fitting. I’m pretty sure the audience were solely Smiths fans, but I wouldn’t recommend it even to them.