Chris Bush and Ian McCluskey have both been down on their luck in love, or so they tell us when they say this is a ‘true story based on things that might not have happened.’ This gem of a show charts their unrequited loves, the ones who got away, all the way to the ones who disagree with their choice of kebab topping at 3am outside a sticky Doncaster nightclub.
Lyricist Chris, the seemingly more straight-laced of the pair, voices his words with a dexterity that makes him look like a country bard; composer Ian looks a little more youthful, prone to drunken bouts and waking up pondering his existence (something he is apparently, and hilariously, well equipped to do after a philosophy degree). With a couple of guitars in tow - and later a melodica - the two craft as much a play with music than a full blown musical; the music creeps up, at points riddled with jokes and at others carrying perhaps a little excessive sombreness, although lyricist Bush, having created Tony! The Blair Musical with McCluskey, knows exactly the moment when to drop the best comic lines even in the most serious of scenarios. When they’re not singing, they’re doing a slightly surreal, very funny stand-up routine that alternates with the songs, and there’s more than a whiff of Woody Allen in their self-deprecating, self-mocking humour.
In other respects too, the show is rich in originality. The writers weave together stories received on their website of others’ lost loves, that give the show a new dimension of warmth. McCluskey’s music, while rarely complex, is catchy and well-suited to the limited stage set-up, while Bush’s lyrics are brilliant in catching the frustrations of human relationships (‘I need a platonic relationship like / I need an inoperable tumour!’). But Bush and McCluskey’s skill is that they understand comedy is a defence for life’s little tragedies, for better or worse.