LOSERVILLE - A SHOW OF WINNERS!
Phil Hopkins, Theatre & Travel Correspondent
A blank canvas is one of life's great dilemmas, does it represent, for the artist, a great opportunity or a potential nightmare?
Probably both but, one thing is for sure, you must always applaud those brave enough to stand in front of the canvas in the first place, for being a copyist is safe but will never result in greatness.
Loserville opened at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds last night, and is one of the most refreshing, energetic, pieces of musical theatre I have seen in a long while.
Steven Dexter's beautifully directed show, set in 1971, is completely 'of the moment', its very strength and, equally, its Achilles' heel, for today's news will soon be tomorrow's fish and chip papers.
But that does not lessen what this 'Facebook' musical has to offer to a new generation of theatre goers tired of Carousel, Chess and revivals of South Pacific and Oliver. It springs from the pens of Elliot Davis and James Bourne, the latter being a former member of teen pop band, Busted, who split in 2005.
It was witty, funny and a bizarre cross between Friends, The Inbetweeners, Big Bang Theory and Glee. I learned that feminism is good until you need a plumber, that Hobbits live in Middle Earth, not the Middle East, and found myself laughing out loud when Miss Nerd, Holly Manson, walked on stage only to be greeted by the jealous in-crowd with the comment: "She's so beige, she belongs in a carpet sample!"
Loserville tells the story of Michal Dork's (Aaron Sidwell) ambition to send the world's first email as he is thwarted by spoilt little rich kid, and corporate thief, Eddie Arch (Gareth Gates) of Arch Systems. Holly Manson (Eliza Hope Bennett) comes to his rescue and Arch and his cronies are put to flight by a bunch of likeable nerds, who finally get the girls and the glory.
Eliza Hope Bennett and Aaron Sidwell were a great match - very much in the mould of Brad and Janet from Rocky Horror - and it was good to see the other side of Gareth Gates, whose self-loving character was akin to that of Charlie Girl's, Jack Connor.
Loserville is fun with some great one liners and Lil' Chris, you triumphed in your cameo as Francis Wier; so few hold a character for so long, let alone the nerdy body language which is the hardest thing to maintain during two hours of scrutiny. You did.
I feel like the head teacher at the annual prize giving, trying to say something worthy about everyone. But, last night, everyone was worthy. I can't mention them all but Francis O'Connor, I will make one exception. Your 'storyboard' set was brilliant; loved it. Steven Spielberg would have been proud, and Mark Zukerberg would have had it digitised in minutes and round the world in seconds if you could have emailed him the artwork!
If I had one criticism it is that the music lacked light and shade. If you're full on all the time how do show contrast, or capture any depth of emotion? I loved the script but, right now, I can't remember any of the tunes but hey, we live in a consumerist society where nothing's supposed to last forever. Tell that to Mozart!
There were some good performances and this musical took some thrashing but certainly wasn't Busted. In fact I'd say it was in pretty good working order! Definitely worth a look.
Runs until 14th July. 7.30pm
LOSERVILLE - A SHOW OF WINNERS!, 27th June 2012, 8:06 AM