BWW Review: HAMILTON (LEWIS) A MUSICAL PARODY, King's Head Theatre

BWW Review: HAMILTON (LEWIS) A MUSICAL PARODY, King's Head Theatre

BWW Review: HAMILTON (LEWIS) A MUSICAL PARODY, King's Head TheatreIf you think basing a show on tweets, confusing the subject of the smash-hit show of the century with the smash-hit racing driver of the century, is a somewhat thin premise for a musical comedy, you would be right. But a successful comedy is seldom dependent on its premise - it's all about what you do with it.

Fiona English's book shows remarkable fidelity to (some of) the details of Lewis Hamilton's rise up to fame and fortune. So you get the fatherly tough love mentoring from McLaren boss, Ron Dennis; the rivalry with double world champion, Fernando Alonso; the on-off relationship with Nicole Scherzinger; the fulsome embracing of the sponsors; and the driving (geddit?) ambition.

It's plenty enough to keep Formula One fans happy that their hero/villain is given due regard - though petrolheads are sensitive souls, and I'm sure some will find something to complain about.

There's just enough there in the narrative (with a swerve or two en route) to find parallels with the ten dollar founding father and that's our "lights out and go, go, go!" for the parodies to come piling in like a big shunt at Sainte Devote.

It's all done with a nod and a wink to the lawyers (there was one in attendance - this is Islington, after all), with David Eaton, veteran of Associate Producers Charles Court Opera, steering a clever path through the legalistic chicanes with his music and lyrics.

Take your pick of any number of phrases and bars that set off a memory or two of Lin-Manuel Miranda's meisterwerk, but I enjoyed "The F1 Commandments" and Ron's "He'll Be Back" delivered wearing George III's crown - natch! Listen for the low rumble as members of the audience get a quick reference before the show accelerates on to the next one.

The show is directed by Benji Sperring in the style that works so well for the Charles Court Opera Company's celebrated pantos (this would have made a good one) with a barely there fourth wall, the odd pratfall and the knowledge that we're all in on the gag. It never gets into the "Aren't we hopeless?" schtick that annoys as much as any other humblebrag - but it does get a bit close at times.

The cast have a great time - as they should in any fringe comedy. Jamie Barwood and Louis Mackrodt ham it up for all they're worth as Big Ron Dennis and Fernando Alonso (and, in a couple of bit part, self-confessed outrageous stereotypes - as if their main roles weren't!).

Letitia Hector's Hamilton is the er... straight man to much of the clowning around her, but she gets her share of laughs and sings well. As does Liberty Buckland, who delivers a killer line or two as an uncanny Scherzinger lookalike, and who sings beautifully - not every song is a pastiche and the ones that aren't get full value.

This is no warts'n'all exposé of the nature of fame or the iniquitous influence of the corporate dollar on sport or even the psychological impact of a supremely gifted outsider making it in a closed cliquey world - all of which it could be.

But it's great fun, and provokes more laughs in the hour before the chequered flag falls than the drab but talented Hamilton (Lewis) has done in a lifetime. Champagne all round!

Hamilton (Lewis) A Musical Parody continues at the Kings Head until 22 September.

Photo The Other Richard

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From This Author Gary Naylor

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