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BWW Reviews: MOLLY WOBBLY, Leicester Square Theatre, January 29 2015

Finally with the support required to push up through more than its fair share of problems, Molly Wobbly thrusts towards us, spilling over with jokes, tunes and double entendres, all squeezed into the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge (until 14 March). Bravo is the fitting response!

In Mammary Lane, the quiet high street of the quiet village of Little Happening, not much happens. Until a stranger arrives whose seemingly irresistible offer of a makeover may be just what the frustrated wives and feeble men need to put a bit of bounce back into their flatlining love lives. But the mysterious man has plans that go well beyond the merely cosmetic...

It's a curious thing, but writer/director Paul Boyd has managed to fuse lots of elements that remind you a little of something else into another thing that is fresh and fun and just what's needed to kickstart the sap-rising season. The plot has plenty of Stephen King's eerie "Needful Things" about it; the performances nod to some of comedy's most enduring stars; and, as is so often the case, there's a fair bit of good old panto popping up from time to time to chivvy the action along. And, with jukebox musicals a much softer option than delivering this all-new musical, Boyd won't get any criticism from me for such inspirations!

The cast are splendid - right across the board. Conleth Kane's camp hairdresser has more than a touch of Alan Cumming in it and he works very well with Christopher Finn and Ashley Knight as the lacklustre (indeed, lack lust) boys. The girls are wonderful: Jane Milligan and Stephanie Fearon had me recalling Joan Sims and Barbara Windsor in their Carry-On heydays and Cassie Compton trumps even that duo, by channeling the unforgettable Jessica Rabbit! Russell Morton's enigmatic newcomer owes plenty to Riff-Raff, but loses little in the comparison - indeed, the whole show is quite close to Rocky Horror .But why not? It's not a bad example to follow!

For all that good stuff, as ever, the most important things to get right in musical theatre are the songs and these are, without exception, tremendously funny and beautifully sung. Though any one of at least half a dozen would be a standout in many shows, The Presbyterian Minister's Wife (including that rarest of things, genuinely funny swearing) and a devastating "One Night Stand" sung by the always marvellous Alan Richardson as a Victoria's Secret Angel with very few secrets to keep, are the best of a very impressive bunch.

Rounding off a show so big it's bursting the buttons of its intimate venue are sensational costumes and a film sequence that gently pisstakes the B-movie horror genre that informs much of the look of the show. Molly Wobbly was once destined for bigger stages and one can see why - and why it may well get there yet.


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From This Author Gary Naylor