Director/Choreographer: Drew McOnie
Reviewer: TL Wiswell
Certain combinations of things set off the reviewer radar. New show, new space… is it a pre-West End run or a bad idea about to die? Given the miserable weather, a “musical dance revue” on the theme of liquor was enough to motivate this reviewer to hope for the best.
It helped that Drunk is choreographed by Drew McOnie, who proved in the Leicester Curve’s Chicago earlier this winter that he knows how to make people move across a stage in interesting ways. And on paper, the cast list looked surprisingly good – dancers from Matthew Bourne, A Chorus Line, and even Gemma Sutton, the Roxie for McOnie’s Chicago. In some ways, the ingredients for success all seemed ready and waiting… rather like a top shelf tequila, a slice of lime, and a salt shaker sitting on the bar of a taqueria.
This show overdelivered on its promise, with the eight performers burning up the floor in a series of numbers loosely structured by Gemma Sutton’s character’s trials (and memories) as she sits in a bar waiting for her date of the evening to show up. She asks herself, “What do I order? What kind of impression to I want to create?” but it’s really just laying a slim foundation for a variety of great dance pieces (and occasional songs) that incorporate ballroom, Broadway, acrobatics, mime (oh the polo ponies and rowing crew of “Pimms,” TOO funny!) and story telling in a entertaining and engrossing way.
As a dance fan, the moves were great, and even more intense given the intimate nature of the Bridewell Theater (capacity seemed to be 150 people – though the sightlines meant that performers’ feet, and sometimes their bodies, slipped from view). However, for musical theater fans, the story telling is really enjoyable – from pure comedy (“Fosters,” the tale of an Australian who failed at computin’ when it wasn’t about rootin’) to heartbreaking tragedy (“Scotch and Rum”).
All of this was done to a very big band sound, thanks to a trumpet and sax (in addition to piano, drums and bass). But best of all was that the producers splashed out on real talent, the kind you can feel, see… all but taste in your mouth. This wasn’t a workshop of a “maybe” show – this was a deep pockets investment in something that intends to be going places.
It all ended about ninety minutes after it began – without once wearing out its welcome. With no snazzy new musicals on stage right now, fans of the form ought to get themselves to the Bridewell tout suite – Drunk is unlikely to stay long in its intimate venue with performances this big. Make mine a double!
Photo: Marc Hankin
Runs until 1st March