Friday, 15 January 2010

Edinburgh Guide - Review

"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." Altogether now, Doe, a deer, a female deer, ray, a drop of golden sun....

Love it or hate it, The Sound of Music has been a musical phenomenon for 50 years, from stage musical to film, from cult gay Singalong shows (reputedly created in an Inverness old people's home), to a BBC talent series leading to West End and UK tour revivals.

Now we have a Fringe show about the people, backstage drama and future consequences after a production of the musical. Just like Maria and Captain Von Trapp and his troupe of children, this is a true story.

The audience is greeted at the theatre entrance by Tony, Michael and Vivienne Pinchbeck and offered a glass of Shloer apple juice. Welcome to the party! The plot of the play is about what happened on 4 December, 1970 when Tony met Vivienne at the post show party after they had both performed (playing a Nazi and a Nun) in an amateur production of The Sound of Music. It's all about fate, as Michael explains at the start, " If Tony had not been in the show, I wouldn't be here."

Father and son (Tony and Michael), dressed identically in brown shirts and black slacks, then proceed to re-enact the dramatic and romantic events of that party. Vivienne observes from the prompt desk, in charge of all the perfectly timed music cues. Against the soundtrack from the Julie Andrews movie, the narrative for the play echoes the lyrics of each song from "I have Confidence in Me" to Tony singing his oldie version, "I am 60 going on 70."

But this show is more than just a light-hearted comedy. Michael's aim in researching the story of his parent's first brief encounter, was to question their hazy memories of that night and the changing roles they played both on and off stage. Likewise Michael and Tony switch between real and imaginary people, playing characters in the musical as well as "acting" themselves, both past and present. Their professional skill at performing in an amateur manner without a trace of ham acting or send up, is a fine art indeed.

Sixteen brilliantly choreographed scenes are played out in an energetic blend of mime, dance, conversational sketches, song lyrics, physical theatre and direct interaction with the audience. With a touch of farce and crystal-sharp, intelligent wit, this innovative show is performed in the style of a Brechtian-inspired Morecambe and Wise double act. I had a permanent smile on my face throughout.

Edinburgh Guide

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