A message reminding people to turn off their mobile phones plays through the theatre. A moment later, it plays again. Another moment later it plays again but this time the voice warps and distorts at the end, skipping and repeating itself. Then an apocalyptic blast of noise comes rushing through the speakers, a dense and rich choral harmony which you might expect to hear storming up the chancel of Westminster Cathedral. This is backed by a strong vocal beat, which you might expect to hear ricocheting through the alleyways of South-East London.
Surely only an immense and eclectic mix of choir boys and rude-boys could make such an impressive wall of sound. Not in this case. The Vocal Orchestra is an astonishing group of seven cheery-faced, colour-coordinated, distinctly middle-class singers who by some kind of magic which I am yet to decipher, can replicate an entire orchestra with just their voices.
Unlike some of the other slightly older and cosier a cappella groups at the Fringe this year, The Vocal Orchestra is unashamedly young, energetic and jovial. They jump up and down, they pretend to have little jokes with each other onstage, they beam endlessly at the crowd and whilst the cross-armed, stony-faced stoics in the audience were clearly finding their enthusiasm irritating, it was hard for the rest of us not to be infected by the colossal amounts of energy and fun exuding from the septet.
Yes, it’s twee and it’s stupid and the rough-edged choreography would make Steven Berkoff weep if he were ever to see it. But it’s a high-octane party: due to this the majority of the audience left that big purple cow with smiles plastered across their face and a skip in their step.