Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Review: 'Timpson: The Musical' at the King's Head Theatre, 19th February 2019

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

"A musical about Timpson? The shoe-repairer / key-cutter / sign-maker / trophy-engraver?" I confirmed for Timpson: The Musical immediately - I had to find out what the hell this show was about. My first guess was that it was about the founding of the titular company, but a quick glance through their Wikipedia page didn't exactly suggest high drama (it was founded in 1865 by shoemaker William Timpson and his brother-in-law, apparently without incident).

What Gigglemug Theatre's show actually is is a very silly parody of Romeo + Juliet. So we have two households (the Keypulets and the Montashoes), who are both alike in dignity (as in neither of them have much of it), in fair Victorian London, where we lay our scene. The families have been feuding ever since a confrontation at the 'Invention Convention' many years ago, when Master Keypulet's (James Stirling) idea of "tiny saws" only managed an honourable mention.

But wouldn't you know it - love begins to blossom between the children of these warring households. Keeleigh (Sabrina Messer) and Monty (Maddie Gray) feel an instant connection to one another, with his key apparently destined to fit snugly into her lock. What follows is a loose-limbed and adorably scrappy love story that never takes itself remotely seriously.

Putting on an intentionally unpolished production is risky business. For one, you're reliant on the charisma and comedic skills of your actors - nothing kills a show stone-dead more than the sense that those on stage are having a great time while the audience isn't. For another, it's very easy for a show to cross the thin line between "adorably scrappy" and just plain bad.

Timpson: The Musical is never in danger of that happening. The uniformly talented cast are all insanely likeable (I particularly liked Rachael Chomer's Lady Montashoe), with some of the best moments of the night coming when they can't help but break character and feebly suppress their giggles at what the rest of the cast is up to. They're aided by an onslaught of reliably funny one-liners and running gags that don't outstay their welcome, all aided by a brief n' breezy 65-minute running time.

And then there are the songs. This show won't be winning any prizes for lyrical complexity or virtuoso vocals, but they're peppered with grin-inducing rhymes and delivered with so much personality that the occasional flat note is immediately forgiven. My favourites were the very entertaining Gotta Get Up When They Knock You Down and the even-more-hilarious-in-hindsight It's A Tingle.

If I really wanted to I could probably pick some holes in this show, but I don't. Gigglemug Theatre set out to create a very, very silly musical with its tongue firmly lodged in its cheek and they have objectively succeeded. In reviewing any comedy I apply the five laughs test: if it doesn't make me laugh out loud at least five times it's failed. Timpson: The Musical had me throatily guffawing from minute one - I may have even slapped my knee. 

What more recommendation do you need?

Timpson: The Musical is at the King's Head Theatre until 27 February. Tickets here.

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