This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub: http://www.thereviewshub.com
The saying goes that, even as the world outside falls apart, the show must go on. However, in John Myatt’s 80 minute musical satire of late night cabaret, it is the show that falls apart and the performers whose lives are in tatters, reflecting the lyrics of the mournful songs that they routinely sing. Pain, misery, heartache, death and despair are some of the constituents that feed this form of cabaret, a sub-culture with which we not so nocturnal creatures have only passing familiarity. Hence, it may be charitable to think that there are in-jokes in Myatt’s lyrics that fly over our heads, because, otherwise, incisive wit seems sadly missing. Simon Arrowsmith’s score makes easy listening, but the songs are much less than hilarious. The show could have been staged as a revue or song cycle, but it does have a plot of sorts. Daniel, owner of the gay club where the action takes place, receives a gift of an antique chair from his ex-boyfriend together with the news that he is planning to get married in eight days. Daniel declares his ex to be the only love of his life, goes into a tail spin and callously casts aside his current lover, the 20-year-old barman Jay. Dan Phillip’s production is a curate’s egg with good and bad parts matching each other almost evenly. It ranges from the near-inspired to the downright amateurish and it does not feel well-suited to the King’s Head’s thrust stage. At some points, characters huddle in corners, at others they engage with each other awkwardly from distance and, throughout, bright spotlights half blind many sections of the audience. The production’s inconsistencies carry through to the individual performances, but they all give at least some pleasure. Daisy Amphlett as musician Della seems too normal and nice to be working in a dive like this, but Valerie Cutko is deliciously catty as the torch singer Vee. Ralph Bogard’s neurotic, self-obsessed Daniel has the look of a Demis Roussos resurrected in a dressing gown and sounds a bit like him too. The surprise package is Daniel Cech-Lucas as Daniel’s rejected toy boy. After making an entrance resplendent in his underpants, he fades to the sidelines, gets deservedly strangled and then rises like the title character to grab a microphone and steal the whole show. His bravura solo routine re-energises a production that had been sinking rapidly. This is a show that refuses to be insulted. It could be described fairly as a chaotic mess, but it is likely that its creators intended it to be exactly that and much of the entertainment in it derives from its shambolic nature. Like late night cabaret itself, Something Something Lazarus is probably best enjoyed with a stiff drink in hand.
Performance date: 10 March 2016
Photo: Jamie Scott-Smith