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Brighton Fringe 2008

Catchy! The Great Plague Musical

Total Beast Theatre Company

Venue: Brighthelm Centre


Low Down

It’s a beautiful day (to take the bodies away)…


Catchy would certainly appear to be an apt title for this musical, which has come to the Brighton Festival Fringe on the back of a sell-out run in Edinburgh. Despite the rather depressing subject matter, this musical  has its tongue lodged firmly in its cheek, as well as having a surprisingly bawdy sense of humour.   Writer and lyricist Julian Bain has created a period piece with a lot of emphasis on comedy but still tries to gain credibility as a piece of musical theatre.

Many of the songs are funny whilst also being very memorable numbers, my particular favourite being “I’ve Got A Bun In The Oven (On My Wedding Day)”. Amongst all the grotesques, there is a central love story between poor corpse collector Tom and Mayor’s daughter, Beth. Josh Boyd-Rochford as Tom particularly impresses.

During his solo numbers he manages to draw attention away from the farcical antics of the rest of the supporting cast and creates a genuine charcter who the audience can care about.

For most of the time, the show moves along at a rather leisurely pace but unfortunately the second act isn’t quite as enjoyable as the first. Where the first act consists mainly of amusing songs ruminating on life in 17th Century London, the second has a lot of plot is crammed into it.

This does lead the narrative towards a satisfactory conclusion but it sometimes felt as if too much farcical action was being shoe-horned into the story. However, this does not prevent Catchy from being anything less than a very entertaining couple of hours.