Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Mad-cap, bouncy musical purporting to trace the origins of a modern day retail establishment that repairs shoes and sells keys.
Two households, both alike in dignity from ancient grudge break to new mutiny. A pair of star-crossed lovers out to out-invent their foe, one Keypulet, the other Montashoe.
OK, OK, so it’s not quite the opening stanza from Romeo and Juliet, but it will do as a precis of this wonderfully anarchic, absurdist, self-parody of a parody loosely (and it’s pretty loose, let me tell you) based on the Shakespeare classic.
Given that it’s a Shakespeare spin-off, let’s not waste too much time on the plot; the fact that Montashoe and Keypulet are trying to out-invent each other – the former by patenting people flaps and nice looking shoes, the latter by making tiny saws (the size of keys) and locks – should do it. The rest flows from this premise, including the ultimate conjoining of the rival factions to form a company that deals in shoe repairs, keys and locks. Now that would never work, would it?
Gigglemug’s first musical is an absolute hoot from start to finish. Sponsored by Timpsons themselves, this helter-skelter hour of entertainment delivers some great songs, a plot of complete absurdity, inventive physical theatre and plenty of audience interaction.
Writers Chris Baker and Sam Cochrane have clearly hit on a winner here with a script littered with great gags and superb one-liners and song lyrics are never less than dry and often hilarious. Theo Caplan and Tom Slade have somehow set all this to music and it’s a tribute to their scoring capabilities that they’ve pitched each number right in each singer’s vocal sweet spot.
Rob Madge (Monty) and Sabrina Messer (Keeleigh) both have great voices for this sort of show, Madge’s expert clowning and ability to keep the “camp-o-meter” at exactly the right level complements Messer’s ability to deliver a tongue-firmly-in-cheek heroine. Throw in the impressive physical presence of Matt Bond as Master Keypulet (think panto-baddy on steroids for his portrayal of the role) and the plum-in-cheek voweled Rachel Chomer as Lady Montashoe and you’ve a quartet that extract every ounce of humour from the material.
And, not content with their roles as directors and writers, Messrs Baker and Cochrane provide the backbone of the clown and physical theatre elements, in addition to playing a pair of gay fishermen, manservant and maid and sundry other cameos.
Two inventively constructed wagons convey perfectly the Victorian period in which the show is set, as do the costumes and the multiplicity of props, some simple, some completed whacky. The on-stage musical trio provide enthusiastic accompaniment, perhaps too much so in the case of the drums which tended to drown both the keyboards and singers on occasion, but that’s a minor flaw that could be easily corrected.
The quality of the staging, physical theatre, acting and script alone means this show comes highly recommended for anyone with a whacky sense of humour and love of good theatre. And those catchy tunes and great vocals nudge it towards a “must see” if you like your humour set to music.