BWW Review: 2 BECOME 1, King's Head Theatre
Look - there's a Nokia phone, and isn't that Stephanie Seymour on the front cover of Cosmo? It surely is. Yep, we're in the 90s, when Tony Blair was hobnobbing with the Cool Britannia set, girls sometimes dressed like Ginger or Baby or Posh (but seldom like Sporty or Scary) and guys made the most crass comments about women since, well, since the last live mic tapes of Donald Trump were released. So not everything has changed,
Swipe Right Theatre mine that much loved decade (for that was the only conclusion to be drawn from the Press Night's audience reaction) for their nostalgia fest 2 Become 1, tracking four twentysomethings speed dating in the age before swipe right was a thing, I suppose.
Jess is on the rebound, all tears and wails after being dumped by her BF; Amanda is keen to talk babies and mortgages to anyone who'll listen and plenty who won't; Charlie is flirty and feisty and out for fun; and Molly is a bit dim but becomes wiser over the course of the night. If you're thinking that they sound like cookie-cutter female characters defining themselves by their relationships (or non-relationships) with men, then I'd be compelled to agree. But this is an all-woman show, on stage and backstage, so I'm not going to argue too long about the somewhat anaemic nature of this kind of girlpower.
If the script is a little predictable and some of the lines irritatingly shouted rather than spoken, Jessica Brady (Amanda) shows herself to be a very skilled physical comedienne and Kerrie Thomason (Molly) can time a gag like a panto veteran. Natasha Granger (Jess) does her best work ad libbing before the show even starts and Eliza Hewitt-Jones (Charlie) accurately conjures the spirit of more than one or two women I met in the 90s.
The show really takes off when the quartet sing - indeed, I was beginning to wonder why they didn't just go the full singalong, when that's what they did! Using body mics in a small venue is usually unnecessary, but amplification is ideal for belting out hit after hit by The Spice Girls themselves, Eternal, All Saints, B*witched and lots and lots more, There are plenty of 90s classics in there (and one all-time classic, the sublime "Hit Me Baby One More Time") and the our girls sing wonderfully as individuals and thrillingly in close harmony.
Eventually, a bit reluctantly, I was won over by the sheer bonhomie of the whole thing, bowled along by an audience loving every moment and by my delight in hearing very fine singers at such close quarters. There's probably a follow-up to be written about Jess, Amanda, Charlie and Molly, which could be a real jukebox musical (rights permitting of course) and that's what I want, what I really, really want. But, for now, this one hour show provides plenty of entertainment for gals and guys - and anyone showing up in a Union Jack dress should really be let in for free.