UCLU Musical Theatre Society’s Fringe production of the Joe Dipietro’s fast paced musical comedy is an incredibly entertaining and fast paced journey into the world of dating, relationship, marriage and family, that, while occasionally faltering, makes for an immensely enjoyable hour.
You leave the show grinning from ear to ear
The show has no consistent narrative or characters but is instead a collection of unrelated skits tied together loosely by the theme of love. We go from awkward first Tinder dates to first time trysts in the bedroom, marital cold feed to dealing with the kids and from relationship beginnings to their inevitable ends.
It has to be said before anything else that the cast are simply astounding, the 6 performers each play a multitude of distinct characters and at no point does it feel like they are phoning it in or relying on easy stereotypes. Their chemistry is electric and brought many a smile and fit of aching belly laughter to the audience as they bounced off each other, showing off their impressive singing and acting ability. The musical also manages to avoid the easy pitfalls many of these productions fall into at the Fringe by remaining static and bound to a few fixed positions on stage, as the choreography is slick and well placed for the space, allowing for dynamic and at times impressive movements sequences whilst never being self-indulgent.
This is all rounded off by a simple but effective technical design where sound and lighting compliment the action on stage, creating distinct scenes but not getting in the way or being too noticeable.
Indeed the show’s weak points do not in any way rest with the company but with the book, whilst the lyrics and individual songs are witty and often laugh out loud funny and the music demonstrates a nice variety the overall structure is not as impressive as it could be. The choice to use a variety of largely unconnected scenes instead of a larger narrative is nice in theory but it sacrifices the play’s ability to say something truly meaningful. We are given lots of little observations about relationships rather than a larger more impactful discussion of one issue. In addition the jokes on occasion fall back to using broad stereotypes of gender which come off as lazy, particularly when the writing in other parts of the play is so sharp.
Despite this however, the sheer force of the cast’s performance means these issues are minor quibbles as the show becomes incredibly enjoyable. The cast brings the emotion, and crucially the humour, out in every scene and you find yourself enrapt by every song. By the final tune you leave the show grinning from ear to ear at the whole experience laughing to yourself at the memories at the show. In the end this show is certainly one that I would heartily recommend for any fans of musical theatre at the festival this year.