EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: BREXIT THE MUSICAL, C Chambers St
Brexit the Musical isn't the only show in this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe to be inspired by recent political goings-on, but it's likely to be the funniest. Penned by EU lawyer Chris Bryant, the musical centres around Boris Johnson, assisted by his sidekick Govey, hunting for a plan for Britain leaving the EU. It's thought that George Osborne may have written a plan, but no one knows where it is.
New musicals that combine memorable songs and genuine comedy are much sought after, and - at least for most of this show's 70 minutes - it holds the audience's attention. Some performances are highly effective impersonations, with Paul Rich (as David Cameron) the standout. Rich has the advantage of physically resembling Cameron, and his voice and mannerisms make for a near-perfect portrayal, with several nuances in his performance not going unnoticed by the enthusiastic audience.
James Witt (Boris Johnson), Andy Watkins (Jeremy Corbyn) and James Dangerfield (Michael Gove) are each slightly more stereotypical, but - of the eight performers - Witt contributes possibly the most to the overall success of the production, with strong singing, 'Boris-dancing' and comedy timing.
Virge Gilchrist (Theresa May) neither looks nor sounds like the current Prime Minister - perhaps we've been spoilt by the likes of impersonator Jan Ravens - but vocally is strong, whilst Natasha Millar (Andrea Leadsom) whips up a dancing storm, though her character has a higher profile in this production than in actual history.
Sarah Covey (Samantha Cameron) gives her husband no shortage of penetrating glances, and Michaela Bennison (as the ever-present researcher/reporter) effectively brings some narration to the piece.
Though there is no shortage of musical numbers, only about half could be described as memorable, but the Jeremy Corbyn Glastonbury song is a highlight. It lifts the show around halfway through, and from then on there is really no going back. A repositioning of the penultimate song to the end would result in a more moving finale, but it clearly was too difficult to avoid the temptation of a sing-along, upbeat closing number to encourage a standing ovation.
Perhaps the most effective element of this production is how the songs are presented. While some are solo numbers, the other performers - crucially staying in character - act as backing singers/dancers during these, and it very much adds to the humour. For example, the Camerons sing along with Corbyn at Glastonbury, whilst Johnson is bopping along in the background with almost everyone.
Despite the plot being somewhat thin, a combination of good comedy timing, high-quality vocals and clever direction lift this production well above a standard university revue, and it's difficult not to be entertained by most of it.
Brexit the Musical runs at C venues, Chambers Street until August 28 (not 15) at 6.55pm.