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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Jingle Street

Chordstruck Theatre

Genre: Comedy, Musical Theatre, New Writing

Venue: Gilded Balloon (Patter House)


Low Down

Pastiche on the world of corporate advertising featuring catchy, jingle laced tunes that will linger rather longer in your memory than you might like wrapped around a script that’s both topical and funny.


Do you find adverts annoying?  Intrusive?  Patronising?  Condescending? Irrelevant?  Nauseating?  Repetitive?  All of the above?  Well, I do.  And, apparently,  I’m not alone.  According to a recent survey, over three quarters of people my age (full disclosure – I’m well into the “silver surfer” cohort) think there are too many ads aiming stuff at people who really don’t need it and who probably can’t afford it.

So just who are these people trying to worm their way into our attention span (which, let’s face it, is becoming more limited by the minute) with their annoying straplines and jingles?

Ad men, of course, especially those like copy/jingle writer Colin Hollins who’s become rich, successful yet miserable as a result of an uncanny ability to invent catchy couplets.  But one day he wakes to find that’s all he can do – speak in TV jingles.   He’s desperate to lift his rhyming curse, before of course that it gets worse.  A chance meeting with an election seeking, ideologically green activist Jasmine Doig seems to offer him a lifeline and cure.    The only small fly in the ointment is that she regards Colin a repugnant sell out, leaving him to contemplate a life creating half-cooked jingles in the corporate jungle.  

In a further plot twist, Colin’s narcissistic boss, Holofernes, is in trouble, having made a pact at school to marry a girl if they were both still single at thirty.  With Holofernes rapidly approaching the big “three-zero”, he’s desperate to marry someone else – anybody in fact, so be careful about sitting in the front row.  

Right, that’s the plot for you, give or take a few seemingly random twists and turns along the way (plus one heck of a chicane in the denouement) in what is a well-staged, neatly choreographed, sharply observational, “up to the minute” piece of theatre.  Jingle Street also manages, somehow, to avoid being a contrived parody of 21st Century corporate life by confessing to being that self-same contrived parody.  Sounds daft (or contrived) but it kind of works, with the plot remaining broadly believable, topped up with clever one-liners we can all relate to and a bunch of catchy tunes plus the odd romantic, melancholic number lobbed in for a bit of balance.

The cleverly designed stage featuring four zebra crossings neatly arranged in an “X” seems to act as an allegory for the crossroads that each character  is apparently facing in their respective lives.  Colin (Tom Hayes) is convincingly troubled by his attack of “Jingle Syndrome”, the only cure for which is apparently the kiss of a true love.  Parsley Smith-Jones (Emily Huxter) plays the role of ingenue with an undercurrent of machiavellianism and Holofernes (Xander Pang) is an appropriately narcissistic, shady corporate executive.

But the standout performance for me came from Maddie Smith as Jasmine Doig.  She has a powerful and commanding stage presence which, coupled with perfect elocution and her excellent singing voice drove the whole show, mixing pace and passion as the idealist activist with a growing, genuine fondness for the man she initially found repugnant.  Is hers the true love that can cure Colin’s teeth grating syndrome?

Pretty much every modern example of corporate excess gets taken to task in Joe Venable’s satirical and, at times, biting script which is full of memorable, funny one-liners mixed with a stream of all too credible advertising couplets.  And  Georgia Rawlins’ score, superbly delivered by Musical Director/Pianist Joseph Giles, supported the mood of the moment through a range of genre including a surprising number of annoyingly catchy pieces.

At times, it’s a bit “Mad Men meets The Thick of It” but that gives you some idea of the quality of the writing/music – you daren’t switch off for an instant.  The singing is nicely balanced when in ensemble and each character gets an opportunity to showcase their skills as a soloist which they all took with gusto, although Hayes appeared to be suffering from a certain hoarseness which meant he had to throttle back a bit at times.  Hopefully that’s just a temporary issue as he has a voice with a pleasant nice timbre and excellent range.  And hats off to Alix Addinall for creative use of the space that delivered much slick choreography.

This is an engaging and entertaining piece of musical theatre – well scripted/scored, simply staged and consummately executed by a well-drilled cast who were all clearly enjoying being on stage.  Definitely one to be recommended!