WAG! The Musical* (Charing Cross Theatre, 24 July 2013)

Posted: July 25, 2013 in Theatre

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com

Hounded by paparazzi, courted by fashion houses, WAGs (wives and girlfriends, usually of highly paid footballers) have become the icons of modern celebrity culture. But for every one of them there are thousands of aspiring WAGs, ladies who are willing to play home or away, in upper or lower divisions, so long as a spread in Hello! or OK! magazines remains in their sights. This new musical features those who have made it and those who have yet to do so. Inevitably the show is about stereotypes – the WAGs themselves, gay men, thick footballers and more – but instead of deconstructing the stereotypes for satire, the script draws all its humour from reinforcing them, bombarding us with feeble jokes and scraping the barrel for double entendres. Worse still, there are serious underlying issues about the sexual inequality in our society which over-rewards men and casts women in demeaning roles, but, unfortunately, these issues are only alluded to and then left unexplored. The writer is Belvedere Pashun, who includes in his interests camping in the lower Himalayas of his native Tibet. Having generated material like this, he might have been better advised to have stayed there or at least to have written under a pseudonym; but perhaps he did not need such advice. The central characters are assistants on the cosmetics counter of a department store who are both in abusive relationships. Jenny (Daisy Wood-Davis) is the plaything of a married footballer and Sharron (Amy Scott) is suffering physical maltreatment from her partner; both actresses give touching performances, side-stepping the cliches as best they can. The are joined by Zoe, a sales rep, who is on the prowl for a new man after the mid-fielder she has been dating has just been relegated from the Premier League. She is played by Lizzie Cundy, herself once a real WAG, now rehabilitated as a television presenter and actress; she would have been a natural as someone who was a seductress 20 years ago, but a few more lessons, even from SuperWAG Victoria Beckham, might have helped to improve her singing performance. Tim Flavin, who plays a waspish store boss, has a formidable record of great performances in hit shows, so, for the sake of musical theatre, it is to be hoped that he recovers quickly from this embarrassment. The lyrics are simple and the unmemorable tunes are in the bouncy pop style. This is not to say that the songs are all terrible; one is very funny and a few of them could have been good enough to have only narrowly missed qualifying to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in some years of the last decade. Happily there are two redeeming cameo performances. Katie Kerr is excellent as Blow-Jo, an overweight store assistant who is resigned to life with a chippy rather than one who chips goals and who is persuaded to buy a brand of cosmetics because of a recommendation from “Loraine Kelly off the telly” (the rhymes get no better in this show). Even more striking is a brief appearance by Ariadne the Greek WAG, alter ego of comedy performer Alyssa Kyria, who delivers the show’s funniest song, England, and a string of hilarious asides and one-liners; her performance is a class above everything else on display and she leaves us regretting that the whole evening could not have been built around her. As the ridiculous feel-good ending draws near, the company comes together and, treats us to an anthem of supreme unoriginality, chanting (there’s) Always Tomorrow. We must all pray that tomorrow will bring us many musicals much better than this one.

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