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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

And They Played Shang-A-Lang

Craft Theatre Company

Genre: Musical Theatre


 Stand 3,  28 York Place


Low Down

 A very well written look back to a childhood to adolescence in the 70s. Evocative numbers very well sung, energy, pace, big laughs and lots of nostalgia.  Young , attractive, buzzing cast.


If you bought your ticket thinking you would get no more than a string of your favourite 70’s numbers strung together with quickly forgotten linking narration, then you’ll get a very pleasant surprise indeed when you see Shang-a-Lang, because you’ll get much, much more than that.   

Yes, the numbers you loved ( and which, as you hear them, will conjure up for you real – and unexpectedly – so many memories) are very well sung indeed:  lovely harmonies and with great energy and passion.  Where’s Your Mama Gone, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, Puppy Love, Waterloo, On The Street Where You Live: heads shake to Punk Rock and arms wave to that rather awful YMCA song ( just my personal dislike!): and more….more there is too in the very clear and by turns psychologically perceptive, extremely funny and very moving  dialogue.

Derek Douglas has written a script that is quietly truthful, and it works most powerfully, as does his sensitive delivery of his own lines.   This is a very good script and a very talented company  to do justice to it.   Liam Rudden’s direction is pacey and imaginative and the shifts in emotion have been well handled.  The company feeling that comes across is very good and the exaggerated style injects an excitement and freshness to the production and a sense of shere enjoyment that is palpable.  For every member of the cast there has to be a judgement made – am I over-egging the energy and facial reaction , or am I underplaying and do I need to inject a bit more pizazz?  A hard call –  some get it right all of the time, and all get it right some of the time!

Different elements in our own adolescence will touch people more or less strongly  in different ways:  is it the innocent incongruities of the Nativity Play that takes you back?   Or the first encounter with real live dangerous girls at the Youth Club disco?  Is it the enormity of trying to grapple with the premature death of a  school  mate when you’ve never faced death before?   Douglas knows how to make us laugh, remember whistfully and to weep.   He has captured very accurately in his dialogue, how we talked and how we felt.

The thoroughly Scottish cast have a charm and talent that will cross the borders to England and Wales and across the Irish Sea more easily than a haggis rolling down a hill.  It has a universality and a simple clear perception of what was going within us when we strutted the stage, when we first encountered the opposite sex, or faced death or when we clashed with a Parent breaking out to find our own way in life..

This musical memory ride back to all our childhood and teens has legs, or I’m very much mistaken.