The Shuffle Show

Wed 5th – Sun 30th August 2015

reviews

Fergus Morgan

at 01:59 on 10th Aug 2015

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The Shuffle Show is not particularly intelligent, nor is it particularly witty. There are no elaborate costumes, no dazzling special effects, and no memorable props. There is simply Elena Gabrielle and Grant Busé, two microphones, one guitar, some immaculately rehearsed choreography and bundles of infectious energy. Staged in Assembly’s Box Theatre, a compact black-box venue that grows swelteringly hot during performances, The Shuffle Show is a vibrant, funny and thoroughly feel-good production, thanks largely to the commitment and talent of Gabrielle and Busé.

Loosely based on a visit to an Apple store (with the audience the ever-patronised customer), The Shuffle Show is essentially a series of musical mash-ups, with each constituent snatch of song tied together by a common genre or subject. These medleys are interspersed with brief sketches, in which Gabrielle and Busé play two ceaselessly beaming, Steve Jobs-worshipping, Apple Store geniuses, who are demonstrating how to make the perfect playlist to the audience – hence the musical numbers.

These short skits are incredibly slick, and the comedy is genuinely funny. A recurrent routine where either Gabrielle and Busé makes a terrible joke, laughs unctuously, sighs, then immediately explains the joke – “Wordplay”, “Historical reference”, etc. – is particularly well-received. But the duo’s real strength is elsewhere, in their irresistibly enthusiastic songs.

Musical mash-ups based on Scottish weather, female empowerment, sexual foreplay are all enjoyable. That last is perhaps most amusing – Gabrielle seizes an unfortunate audience member to take part in a more seductive number. The result is pure hilarity.

It is impossible to pass over the quality of Gabrielle’s singing. From shrill, soaring Opera, to spot-on impersonations of Celine Dion, slick Nicki Minaj raps, to suave, sexy Aretha Franklin, Gabrielle’s vocals are consistently impressive, and at times verge on breath-taking.

It is the shows finale, however, that truly ensures the audience leaves with smiles on their faces, music in their ears, and an overwhelming urge to dance the remainder of their night away. Gabrielle and Busé drop their microphones and perform a ten-minute dance routine to what can only be described as a series of stone-cold classic dance tunes. As they encourage the crowd to join them in their twisting, their moonwalking and their tailfeather-shaking, every face in the intimate, and by now stiflingly hot theatre, is grinning from ear to ear. As the audience skips joyfully from the theatre, they are walking on sunshine, like Katrina and the Waves. “Musical reference”, as Busé would say.

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Abigail Smith

at 08:33 on 10th Aug 2015

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Set in an Apple Store Genius Bar, Elena Gabrielle and Grant Busé led us through a musical extravaganza tutorial of the Shuffle feature, all under the watchful eye of a deified Steve Jobs. This is an hour of light-hearted fun, guaranteed to leave you dancing along.

The music, the main focus of the shuffle premise, was performed brilliantly, occasionally with words replaced to make them about Apple (though this joke could have been used more), all based around certain playlists. One was about Scottish weather, another Rock vs Rap, and one titled ‘Booty Mix’ (think Nicki). Though each seemed to go on for about 2 songs too long, they were all well performed, and given so much energy it was almost tiring just to watch. As Busé thrusted his way through Baby Got Back (with some very impressive guitar skills and a pair of lamé hot-pants), Gabrielle positively shone during her diva playlist. Featuring a mimed impression of Britney, a perfectly enunciated Celine Dion, and a rasping Christina Aguilera, I kept thinking each song would surely be the last; as she finally seemed to draw to a close, she suddenly announced threw back her head and burst into My Heart Will Go On. The audience went mad for it, and her impassioned Diva skills were hysterical.

In between playlists, they assumed the personas of what can only be described as Air Hostesses on crack, with just a touch of children’s TV presenter. With perfectly timed insincere laughter, they stood stiffly in their “Apple Approved Uniforms”, hinting at a sinister confidential policy which bound them to silence on the new Apple product. Their mockery of the mega-company was witty and well-timed, and the gentle warning to those who didn’t like the show that Apple has all our bank details may have only slightly influenced this review.

Audience participation played a big part in the show, and I was more than happy to sing along to some Backstreet Boys, and relish any opportunity to whack out the Ketchup Song dance. I was, however, left a bit uncomfortable at Gabrielle’s interaction with her ‘chosen male’ (this time the very willing and witty Jamie). While he and all his friends seemed to find her dry humping him hilarious, I couldn’t help feel awkward imagining if the situation had been reversed. Though the rest of the audience was in stitches, I felt that some points simply went too far in the name of a cheap laugh.

The show ended with the most impressive dance number I have seen in a long time, and it closed with a cheerfully drunken buzz. As another message from voiceover Siri told us, if you didn’t like the show, you probably owned an Android anyway. I probably ended up around the iPhone 5 mark; the show is pretty simple, but if you want to spend a very silly and feel-good hour then this is the place to do it.

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