Sunday, 20 September 2015

Kinky Boots - Review

Adelphi Theatre, London


****


Book by Harvey Fierstein
Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell


The Company

Two years after its Broadway debut, Kinky Boots strides into London’s Adelphi Theatre, helmed again by Jerry Mitchell who is evidently looking to repeat the show’s award-winning success over here.

Based on the BBC film of a decade ago – in turn inspired by true events - Kinky Boots tells of a Northampton based shoe factory facing closure, that stumbles across the idea of making women’s fashion thigh-length boots but built for a man’s body. As their kinky boots go down a storm amongst the transvestite and drag community, the company is saved.

It’s a neat conceit and the story hinges around two men. Lola - really Simon from Clacton – an acclaimed drag act, who underneath the costumed façade is desperate to be accepted by the world around him, particularly his ageing father. Charlie is a straight guy who has inherited the shoe factory and who comes to learn to love and respect Lola (who has provided the inspiration along with the creative input and design for the factory’s kinky boots), for who he is.

But whilst there’s a decent integrity to the show’s pulse of self belief and determination, Fierstein’s book is too predictable. If Matt Henry’s Lola, in all his splendour, had burst into singing I Am What I Am from La Cage Aux Folles when he visits the Clacton old folk’s home, in place of the maudlin Hold Me In Your Heart it would not have been out of place. That being said, Henry is a stunning turn and his duet with Killian Donnelly’s equally impressive Charlie in Not My Father’s Son, makes for spine tingling musical theatre. 

In amongst all the fabulously choreographed dick-heavy chicks there’s a straight love story too. Amy Lennox’s Lauren offers way too much talent to a role that’s often not much more than cliché, rivalling Amy Ross’ deliciously cynical Nicola, Charlie’s frustrated fiancee who’s harshly not even offered one song credit. The view of a gritty Northampton through Fierstein and Lauper’s glitzy Broadway prism doesn’t quite convince and if only there was as much meat in the show’s story as there is in its well packed dancers' lunchboxes, then this could have been quite the perfect musical.

But no matter, because for the whooping girlies and twirlies in the audience, Kinky Boots undoubtedly hits the spot. Mitchell also choreographs and his vision creates some sensational routines. With numbers staged on fashion-show runways, workshop staircases and ridiculously (but with jaw-dropping brilliance) even on a moving factory conveyor belt, the song and dance of Kinky Boots bear the hallmarks of cutting edge West End originality.


Booking until 6th February

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