EFR - Reviews of Laurence Owen: Lullabies of Pervland

Laurence Owen: Lullabies of Pervland

Sat 2nd – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Tom Gellatly

at 01:34 on 8th Aug 2014

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In Lullabies of Pervland, musical polymath Laurence Owen takes us through what he deems to be the history of sex in modern English culture, and his own personal history, in musical form. There are plenty of songs here, and Owen is certainly a very gifted musician, but how do these well-tested chord progressions and melodies mesh with Owen’s racy, sex-oriented lyrics?

The answer is a mixed one. For the first few numbers of his production, Owen sticks to his formula of young love – or, rather, young lust – comically detailing his first few experiences of adolescent yearning for various figures, be they his friend’s mum, his gardener and, especially hilariously, Carol Vorderman.

And for a while, this works; the audience are truly involved in the narrative and sense of humour of these first few numbers, laughing and clapping along to such choruses as ‘Carol Vorderman… was the thinking boy’s crumpet.’ This spurs Owen on to greater comedic heights, as he responds impressively instinctively to the shifts in popularity that occur, throwing a quizzical eye into the crowd at any laugh he deems to be too excessive.

Thankfully, after a few of these raunchier numbers, Owen moves onto a bizarre sci-fi tangent, and narrates his personal belief about what happened during the making of Star Wars. His understatedly humorous narration is impeccably timed with his pre-prepared, pompously orchestral soundtrack, and he guides the audience along in his preposterous tale with excellent comic timing and some great one-liners.

After an interim of a few more songs, he then moves onto what seems to be his magnum opus in novelty songs; he prances, dances and croons along to his own re-writing of a Disney play. this is replete with what he sees as the only three roles available to women in the famous animation; nature-loving and innocent, wise and old (as Owen says, probably overweight – or at least a teapot) or, as the production closes, his favourite; evil. This closing number is a riotous one, resulting in almost constant laughter from the audience and truly allowing Owen’s deadpan delivery and perfectly delayed comic timing to shine through.

Owen’s production veers wildly from the titular theme of lust and perversity, into his own, bizarre little meditations on sci-fi franchises and Disney women’s career paths, all the while keeping the delivery and amusingly improvised crowd participation. Owen’s production definitely isn’t a lullaby, and it’s definitely not set entirely in pervland, but it is, occasional lull aside, a mostly engaging and funny musical tour through one man’s mind.

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Millie Morris

at 02:22 on 8th Aug 2014

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The bedtime songs of perverts form a unique concept for a musical, and Laurence Owen's all-singing, guitar-straddling, one-man-show is certainly that. We set sail on a ship of music and poetry from the word go, gliding from the land of the glad-eye to caves of teenage crushes, Halloween costumes and Timelord mania. Although the show is not quite pee-your-pervy-pants hilarious, it is generally worth the watch if only for the snazzy riffs and satisfying rhymes -- something Owen does with the style and ease of a true maverick.

'Welcome to Pervland, population: us' Owen brightly plays in the introduction to his genre-defying musical mash-up, which he promises will follow 'teenage explorations to horny grannies'. This it does, starting with Owen melodically illustrating a timeline of his younger crushes. A particular highlight is Owen's devised piece about the best way to leave your lover, where a woman (who I can only presume is fictional) cannot break up with her boyfriend for fear of hurting his feelings ends up committing a felony and feeling great about it just because it means she will be out of his clutches, in the ironic sanctuary of a prison cell.

However, the show's comedic quality is somewhat inconsistent, and there are patchy areas which almost have tumbleweeds breezing past, if not for Owen's awareness and immediate abortion of the less successful parts. The jokes are lagging during an improvised rhyme session about actors who have played Doctor Who, but in good spirits Owen notes that it isn't really working and continues with something better.

In spite of the show's title, Owen rarely, if ever, drifts into offensive territory, which is a welcome surprise. He closes the show with a satisfyingly astute skit about the three life paths available to a traditional Disney heroine: a fairy godmother, a complacent housewife or an evil queen are the only occupations that Disney's now outdated films would supply her with, Owen points out in comic fashion, remedying the show's less funny moments.

All in all, Owen's idiosyncratic performance sets him apart as a kook: he is a talented wordsmith, and the tight, unpredictable rhymes of his songs complement the style-ranging music. Although the material is not exceptionally side-splitting, there is no doubt the man has something a little special when it comes to guitar jingles and lyric-crafting.

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