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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Departure Lounge

InSTEP Theatre

Genre: Musical Theatre


Paradise in Augustines


Low Down

Sun, sea, sand and frolics as four less than innocent eighteen year-olds find that their recollections of a week in Malaga at odds with each other.


We’ve all been there. Waiting for a Ryan-Air flight. Most airlines use a clock to measure delays. Ryan-Air uses a calendar. Stuck in the departure lounge at Malaga Airport after a week of sun, sea, sand and at least the possibility of sex as they commemorate their transition from school kids to students, four 18 year olds of varying degrees of innocence recall the times they’ve just enjoyed.

But it soon becomes clear that each has a different take on the week’s events, especially when it comes to what each of them allegedly got up to with the appropriately voluptuous Sophie, a girl of certain charms from, it would appear, the Wirral.   Is she as innocent as she makes out and will the friendship of our quartet survive the transition from school to university?
Dougal Irvine’s musical has been stuck in departure lounges in London, New York, Chicago and now finds itself parked in Augustine’s on George IV Bridge. He’s put together a winning formula – four bankable young men, the charming Sophie and some easy-flowing ballads that carry the story along at a brisk pace. With an athletic and, at times, acrobatic choreographed score from Cressida Care, this is a high octane piece of theatre that leaves the audience gasping for breath and the performers dripping perspiration on stage as they whirl and burl.
Musical genres on display include rap, ballad, country and western and full on rock. We’ve got songs about sexuality, discovery, friendship, growing up, absent families and having a good time – “Brits on Tour” opens and closes the show in a roof raising performance. 
It’s all good stuff but the boys are probably better singing in harmony than they are going solo. Not that each has anything but a pleasant and melodious voice. It’s just that they are a bit too “boy band” in style, all high tenors with perfect teeth, coiffed hair and engaging eyes. The wonderful Sophie provided some much needed contrast but the two people I thought were the real stars of the show went almost unheralded. 
Nowhere in the voluminous sixteen page press pack I was handed with my ticket, nor on the flyer or website, were there details of the lady and gentleman on acoustic guitars who accompanied each piece as well as providing the incidental music. The vibrant tonality and richness of sound they conjured from their instruments was a joy to listen to. Like all good musicians, they fitted seamlessly around the performers, providing structure and substance to what were at times rather shallow lyrics. Such a pity their light is being hidden behind the proverbial bushel – they deserved more than the passing accolade they received from performers and audience alike.
But that’s a small criticism of what is a well-constructed and vibrant piece of musical theatre. No surprise, then, that it’s proving a popular draw. It’s an hour’s easy entertainment with some good songs and, of course, those wonderful acoustic guitars.


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