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A review by Carmen Nasr for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

Christopher D Clegg presents

 

Betwixt!

 

ELLEN GREEN (THE NYMPH QUEEN) AND BENEDICT SALTER (BAILEY HOWARD)

Photo by Marilyn Kingwell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

by Ian McFarlane

 

Directed by Ian McFarlane

 

Trafalgar Studios

 

26 July – 20 August 2011

 

 

Ridiculous and daft, with all the camp trimmings and trappings that could possibly be squeezed into a musical over a couple of hours, Ian McFarlane’s adult fairytale Betwixt! takes to the West End stage. A tale of farcical proportions set to sitcom-style dialogue and sufficiently pleasing show tunes, this all-singing all-dancing indulgence is perhaps only for the most dedicated aficionados of musical theatre glitz.

With a raucous narrative so eager to entertain that at many times the plot thickens with confusion as opposed to captivation, Betwixt! follows the fantastical adventures of  New York writer Bailey as he struggles to overcome a crippling bout of writer’s block. Accompanied by his fabulously camp new flatmate Cooper, the pair walk through a pop-up door and find themselves in a parallel universe of kidnapped princes, seductive nymphs, and yes, a talking severed head complete with Bavarian accent.

Amongst all this madness, the cast’s relentless energy and Choreographer Grace Harrington’s eclectic mixture of tap, burlesque and general jazz-hand glamour, gives the production an infusion of smoothness and talent that will satisfy most audience members, while possibly whipping up the more die-hard fans of the genre into a state of unbridled glee. With such lyrics as ‘I’ll be the Abercrombie to your Fitch’, the show is littered with references to (mainly American) popular culture, taking advantage of every cliché and stereotype at its disposal.

The talented cast is led by Ellen Greene of Little Shop of Horrors Broadway fame, taking on the triple role of Princess, Nymph Queen and Enchantress, her signature lisp and comical ditzyness coming into play perfectly. However, while her commanding teary solo brings a bit of old-school Broadway glamour to proceedings, it failed to electrify the night. One time Blue Peter present Peter Duncan is a treat in his multiple roles, the highlight being the almost psychotic actor the Great Garbo, who is of both imposing presence and ridiculous hilarity. Steven Webb as the relentlessly narcissistic and camp Cooper delivers the best in comic timing to a character that seems to pop up in every other American romantic comedy and sitcom these days. Best vocal performance undoubtedly belongs to the Ashleigh Gray as Miranda, who somehow manages to make a severed head convincing.

Brimful with such twee extravagances as a Mexican mariachi band as the embodiment of romance, tap dancing paparazzi and a cabaret of nymphs, Betwixt! is an unabashedly clichéd explosion of musical theatre’s dazzle and sparkle. You have
been warned!

 

 
Box office: 0844 871 7632
www.ambassadortickets.com
 
Trafalgar Studio 2
Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY
7:45pm Mon – Sat & 3pm Thu & Sat
£25/£20 concessions
 

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