|Shout! The New Swinging
60's Musical - Review
The Musical: Edinburgh Playhouse
by Edinburgh Evening News
performances and a great choice of songs combine
with a top performance from Su Pollard to ensure
that this 60s musical does, indeed, swing.
Sadly for the production,
Pollard does not have the lead role and since
Claire Sweeney, who does, is the least effective
singer on the stage, any real swinging is little
and far between.
Shout! is what you might
call a "time-travel" show, designed to
transport the viewer back to a particular era.
More cabaret than musical theatre, the flimsy
plot is padding for the songs, which are chosen
for their ability to conjure up the chosen time.
Which, in the case of
Shout! means the 60s. Not the 60s of hippies,
counterculture and psychedelic music, but the 60s
of Twiggy, short skirts and pure pop, as
experienced by teenagers everywhere in the UK.
The plot involves three
girls, Ruby (Sweeney), Georgina (Donna Steele)
and Betty (Shona White) who go down to London
from "up North" to find their fortune.
Instead, they find Ruby's aunty Yvonne (Pollard)
and her hair salon in Peckham, where they spend a
decade hanging out in short skirts, reading teen
Which gives plenty of
opportunities for Howard Jones as Tony T,
Shout!'s editor, to bring a whole load of 60s
adverts and editorials out from the page and onto
the stage. Welcome the Pill, cigarette adverts,
"groovy" lingo and, as the interval
starts, a visit from the Milk Tray man.
There is so much potential
that it is painful to see good ideas wasted under
Sweeney's lead. She is so meandering that,
despite tight singing and dancing performances,
Steele and White are unable to do anything about
Winking at the audience to
indicate her character is a bit of a goer and
grinning in a manner that, in horror movies, is
reserved for characters about to morph into
werewolves, Sweeney is actually fine when called
upon to sustain a note.
Ask her to sing anything
resembling a tune, however, and her voice fades
in and out faster than Radio Caroline on a windy
night in the North Sea. In dramatic terms, these
boots were made for gallumphing, not walking.
Rather greater skill is
shown by Shona White, soloing in songs such as I
Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself and Little
By Little. She is not overly subtle but is at
least effervescent in her approach to the music.
It takes Su Pollard's
rendition of You're My World to show how it
should be done. Her start is so understated you
think she might be faltering. But then she
builds, and continues to build, until the
audience are in raptures.
If all the performers
could use the material with a fraction of her
sense of drama and understanding, this would be a
brilliant night of crystal clear 60s pleasure.
Instead, it is the 60s recalled through a haze
and not a purple one, either.
Edinburgh Evening News