Thursday, 13 March 2014

Molly Wobbly

Phoenix Artist Club, London

****

Written and directed by Paul Boyd

Leanne Jones and Russell Morton

Making a long overdue arrival in the capital Molly Wobbly, Paul Boyd's smutty subversive paean to the vanity of cosmetic surgery finally opens at the Phoenix Arts Club. A search through these reviews will find the Edinburgh 2012 production version and subsequent CD already well commented upon and in a week when the satirical US import Urinetown is making a splash in Victoria, it's grand to see new British writing celebrated too.

Molly Wobbly's bizarre fable follows three married couples in a sleepy British village, all frustrated and unhappy with their lot and their sex lives until the arrival of a shock-headed freak, bizarrely named IThankYou, who suggests that the cure for the women's respective miseries lies in breast enhancement. The show's humour is cupped firmly (or wobbly) in an 18-rated style of "Carry On" crude, with some of the gags being eye wateringly brilliant and many of Boyd's melodies proving extremely hummable too.

The beauty of this staged concert version lies in the company that Boyd has assembled. A handful of newcomers combine with some stalwarts from the Edinburgh cast and notwithstanding the pre-recorded backing track, the vocal work on display is immense. All of the harmonies are glorious with Leanne Jones' spine-tingling 11 o'clock lament, Designed By Margaret Brown an absolute belter. Fans of former The Voice star Jordan Lee Davies should also head to the basement venue. Davies plays Kitten, a strange sidekick/henchman to IThankYou and his mellifluously depraved homage to casual gay sex, One Night Stand, is just as hilarious two years on from Edinburgh, notwithstanding Boyd’s nip and tuck to the lyrics. Kitten's torch song however, Guardian Angel, a number that is simply gorgeous on the CD and is possibly one of the best British musical theatre songs of recent years, loses some of its majestic impact against the over-amplified backing. An easy fix to remedy.

Russell Morton's IThankYou is a treat of a performance, whilst Kate England's repressed Presbyterian minister's wife also provides some well written laughs. Conleth Kane brilliantly reprises his camp hairdresser, alongside an Alistair Brookshaw who as Malcom, Margaret Brown's husband is a convincing spouse, henpecked by a wife (Jones) who is so much larger than life.

The venue ain't great (pub noise wafts in too often) but the performances are magical and the talent and innovation manifest by the show deserve a wider audience. Give Molly Wobbly a live band and a larger stage and she could truly reach her full potential.

With funny filthy lyrics, ridiculously skilled singers that are busting with talent and saucy scantily clad actresses, this is a show that speaks both to and about, us all.


Runs to 19th March

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