A Very Brexit Musical

Thu 2nd – Sun 26th August 2018

reviews

Sally Christmas

at 09:38 on 24th Aug 2018

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'A Very Brexit Musical' recounts the events of the referendum campaign in a way you haven’t seen before. Funny, timely and refreshing, 'A Very Brexit Musical' is a decision you won’t regret.

The first thing I noticed about 'A Very Brexit Musical' is the quality of its music. With their rich sound and note-perfect performance, an ensemble of live musicians gave this student show a professional feel. The original songs are wonderful; catchy and entertaining, they were delivered with great energy and incredible talent. The vocals of the show were for the most part extremely strong, and, accompanied by well-choreographed routines, the musical numbers were definitely a highlight of the production.

But, of course, the main attraction of 'A Very Brexit Musical' are the political caricatures. The roles are all well cast, with each actor fitting their part perfectly, and the performances are painfully relevant. Joris Bohnson, who crashed onto the stage in with a hi-vis, a scooter, and a yellow helmet, is the embodiment of chaos. Bringing hilarity and buffoonery wherever he went, Bohnson offered a standout performance – the production would have been worth seeing for his character alone. But, this was far from a one man show. From a helpless Cavid Dameron to a sunglasses-clad Figel Narage, there is far too much that’s funny about this musical to mention. The humour is an ingenious balance of satirical and silly, and with its fast pace and fantastic delivery, 'A Very Brexit Musical' entertained throughout.

Not everything was completely successful. Although anyone doing a slut-drop in front of picture of Margaret Thatcher is clearly as funny as it is bizarre, I found the overly-flirtatious Mheresa Tay got pretty grating pretty quickly. The part was performed extremely well, but I can’t help but wish the script had taken the character in a different direction. Some things didn’t go quite to plan on the night; a scene between two old ladies fell a bit flat, the punchlines not quite getting the reactions that might have been hoped for. A prop malfunction left a desk standing wonky, which wouldn’t have been a problem worth mentioning had they not spent half of the next scene trying to fix it – instead of focusing on the characters I was supposed to be watching, I found myself distracted by various politicians shoving props beneath a table leg behind them.

However, there’s no denying that 'A Very Brexit Musical' is a high-quality production with a talented cast and a great script. You might think that right about now more Brexit is the last thing you need in your life, but there’s something very therapeutic about watching the chaos play out. A strong and stable performance, 'A Very Brexit Musical' is student theatre at its finest.

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Kathryn Tann

at 14:39 on 24th Aug 2018

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‘A Very Brexit Musical’, written by Molly Cook and Anthony Gray, is very, well, Brexit. The trouble is, I don’t mean that in an overly good way. At the end of the show, a cast member hopes that we found it “as fun as the real referendum in 2016”, and unfortunately his joking sarcasm hits the mark. Watching Brexit wasn’t ‘fun’ back then, and recounting it all now, even with song and dance thrown in, doesn’t feel much better.

Had I watched this musical in its first year of performance I would undoubtedly have felt differently. Fresh, current and hot on everyone’s lips, the show would have been buoyed up by its relevancy, and the ways of ridiculing each political name would have felt far more innovative. But the referendum has now been wholly overworked. Comedians have moved on and so have the laughs of the public. I completely agree that the whole saga was laughable, and the decision to make a musical out of it all was an excellent one – but now, in 2018, it feels undeniably stale.

The cast of ‘A Very Brexit Musical’ must, however, be commended for their quick thinking and ‘show must go on’ attitude. Faced with an injured cast member, the team were forced to change a deal of blocking and choreography at very short notice, and apart from a few creases (quite understandably not yet ironed), they handled the challenge with determination and professionalism.

The quality of performance certainly varied between characters, with ‘Joris Bohnson’ standing out in the energy and commitment he had for his role. Nevertheless his childish caricature is tiringly familiar, and the gremlin-like persona became a little too much at times. ‘Meresa Tay’ was also strong, her interactions with ‘Cavid Dameron’ drawing the occasional chuckle, but the decision to make her this snarky, sexy manipulator felt strange – and without the stammerings of Dameron would have failed to add much humour. A similarly awkward plot line was the romance between the two journalists at ‘Maily Dail’ – their story teetered uncomfortably between the serious and the comic. Had it been purely comic, the jolting from unpersuasive dialogue to clichéd song might have worked. But without the laughs their relationship was left feeling empty and unconvincing.

The chorus, though generally enthusiastic, waned at times: some numbers were quite enjoyable, whilst others felt laboured and flat. I was also disappointed by the ending: it offered no insight or conclusion, relying entirely on a recording of the announcement of the referendum results, as each mismatched expression left the stage. There was no message, no opinion, and no sense, as the lights went down, that we had gleaned anything more from the ever-present topic of Brexit.

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