Edinburgh Fringe 2010
The tale of a young man’s dreams of making it as a footballer is classic material for musical drama of the times. This piece has all the elements but somehow doesn’t live up to the promise. Good in parts, the whole is a bit of a disappointment. But the audience had a great time, there is huge energy among the 30 strong cast, and it is a good way to start the day.
Mixing multi-layered African beats with searching acapella vocals, Zambezi Express tells the age old story of the young man’s dreams of making it to the big city , and finding fame and fortune as a footballer. With dancing, jumping, skipping, jiving this has all the elements of a musical which could be very successful indeed.
A thirty strong cast work hard to bring what is a rather dull story to live. With the lucky charm necklace from the grandparents to guide and look after him, the hero boards the Zambezi Express to the big city, there to win fame and fortune as a footballer scoring the winning goal with the last kick of the game, and against all the odds.
There is the obligatory bad guy who steals the necklace and the girl, a hero who rises from the rock bottom to win back the girl, the necklace and then the world cup. Absolutely classic musical fare, wildly improbable, wholly implausible and a suspension of disbelief which will test even the most incredulous.
And while some members of the audience were on their feet and cheering wildly at the end, this was rather disappointing as a show. Not sure whether to be a piece of theatre, a musical, or an exercise class, Zambezi Express fails to lift off. The storyline is confusing, there is little character development, no audience involvement, this has the feel of a spectacular show without the spectacle. References to this year’s World Cup appear to have been added at the end of another play.
As a way to start off the day at the Fringe, its good stuff. As a spectacular musical treat, there are better to be had. With more rigorous writing and tighter direction, this could be very good indeed. Right now, it isn’t. Thus the three stars.