“We’re gonna have one hell of a show…”
Slotting into a late evening slot at the Jermyn Street Theatre due to the short running time of Away from Home, is this bizarre little comic curio, which feels like it may have gotten lost on the way to Edinburgh. Satan Sings Mostly Sondheim was created by Adam Long, fresh from a successful run of Dickens Abridged which he also wrote and directed, with contributions from Jo Cichonska on the music and it really does have that Festival feel about it, straddling comedy sketch, musical revue and energetic improve session.
The set-up, for what it’s worth, is that Satan came up from hell in the 60s, inspired by a great year for musical theatre, and became a star. But his fame is now on the wane and the unresolved issues with his earthbound father has led him to put on a one night only Sondheim special at the Palladium to revive his fortune. Thing is, as the poster says, “this show contains absolutely no music by Stephen Sondheim, and is not endorsed in any way by Stephen Sondheim or anyone who knows him” so Satan and his long-term agent Robert have to make do.
This leads directly to the show’s strongest suit. Without the license to the songs he wants to sing, Satan comes up with any number of Sondheim-adjacent ditties, Long and Cichonska having great fun with witty pastiches of the maestro’s inimitable style which hit home time after time. The rest of the show doesn’t quite feel as sharp however, the premise runs out of steam pretty quickly and the writing never quite gets the comic beats it is aiming for, even a Adele Dazeem joke fell flat.
But having seen the show at an early stage in its development, the rawness was actually part of its appeal. And the energy and experience of Long and co-star Mark Caven suggest there’s potential here for something good. The banter with the audience is fun, especially roping in a cameraman, and there’s a ton of killer lines buried in there which just need framing a little better.