Edinburgh Fringe 2011
The rapidly approaching onset of middle age prompts a band with a fascination for the Eurovision Song Contest to try and repeat their heroics of twenty years ago – when they came so close to being yet another British entry that registered nulle points.
Tony is desperate to roll back the years and squeeze his expanding body back into his glamrags, so jumps at Neil’s offer to reform their band, on the shelf for the past twenty years. It takes little arm-twisting to persuade Steve to whip out his drum kit but Jan is somewhat more reluctant, wary that she and Tony had a bit of a teenage fling which left her dumped and sore. And what will Gemma, Jan’s teenage daughter, make of her middle-aged mum’s attempted comeback?
Sex, Lies and Eurovision is set squarely in Glasgow, providing the writers with the perfect vehicle to display the unique brand of humour that emanates from this part of the globe. Cynical, ironic, sardonic, black, self-deprecating, barbarous and sometimes all of the above, Glasgow patois is laugh out loud stuff and this show had some great moments. The cast’s excellent sense of timing and delivery wrung every laugh from the script and the finale was worth the admission alone – a superb pastiche on Scooch’s 2007 Eurovision entry, “Flying the Flag”, something so kitsch I had to check the whole number out afterwards on WE7 to remind myself how truly awful it was.
But with such great humour and wonderfully awful music running in the background, the plot kept getting submerged. “Band wants to relive its youth but past flings threaten to get in the way and who is Gemma’s father anyway” isn’t the most complicated of storylines. It could have been covered in little more than half the ninety minutes it took with no loss of impact or the sharp badinage that sets this piece apart from a crowd of others at the Fringe. An overly complex set and a multiplicity of scene changes also disrupted the flow, although we did have yet more entertaining British flops from past Eurovision contests to help pass the time.
The acting grew to be universally strong by the end and some of the costuming was just out of this world. The energy levels were high throughout and the finale just outstanding, but someone needs to take a red pen to the script. Do that and you’ll have a real winner.