2017 Oscars – pre-ceremony thoughts

“For whatever reason, he spared a hamster”

When you see as much theatre as I do, it can be difficult to keep up to date with cinematic releases – if I have a night off, I rarely want to spend it in a dark room… – but I have tried my best this year to see at least some of the Oscar-nominated films, so that I can chip in once they’ve been distributed in a way that will doubtless cause some controversy or other.

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Review: Geek! A New Musical, Tristan Bates

“We’re sorry that there wasn’t much plot”

I cannot lie to you, when I came out of Geek! A New Musical at the Tristan Bates, I thought (and tweeted) that it was one of the most puerile and offensively bad shows I had seen in quite some time. A few days distance has mellowed that viewpoint a little, but mainly to replace indignation with frustration at the choices in both play and production. Writer Scott Morgan has put together a pretty bog-standard American high school drama – when Queen Bee Flissy Joy has her plans to win the school beauty pageant derailed by Daddy cutting her off, she and her clique of plastics turn to new girl plain Jane to makeover her into a prize-winning stooge and catch the eye of handsome jock Billy-Bob into the bargain. But it is such a saturated genre that every plot point, twist and gag can be traced back to Glee, Cruel Intentions, She’s All That, Mean Girls, etc etc… and with little sense that anything new has been added here.

Musically, Morgan’s score is functional rather than distinguished, Benjamin Holder’s over-amplified musical direction far too heavy on the drums (on this night at least) though it is sung proficiently. But dramatically, it suffers from trying to be too clever in self-referencing as a pastiche of both the high school genre (‘don’t run down the corridor, douchebag’) and of musical theatre itself (‘”where were you?” just singing a song outside…’), without having the requisite sharp-edged wit or dramatic chops to carry it off throughout the whole show. Perhaps to overcompensate for this, directors Porl Matthews (who also designs) and Jamie Chapman Dixon throw everything, the kitchen sink AND the blow-up doll at the show with a key note of the lewder and cruder the better which batters away with an unrelenting persistence which may well be to your tastes. It wasn’t to mine. Continue reading “Review: Geek! A New Musical, Tristan Bates”