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Kinky Boots – The Playhouse, Edinburgh

Book: Harvey Fierstein

Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper

Director: Jerry Mitchell

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

Even for those unfamiliar with the original cinematic release, there’s been an immense buzz surrounding the Kinky Boots musical. It doesn’t take much to get involved though, as the production itself has a tongue in cheek attitude with the unique aspects. In particular, yes, they are in fact singing about shoes.

Price & Sons have always made shoes, good quality practical ones for men. Times change though, as do peoples tastes. In a daring bid to save the company from crumbling, Charlie (Joel Harper-Jackson) enlists a new designer with a dazzling eye (and leg). Lola (Kayi Ushe), a drag queen from London makes the trip up to Northampton, home of the working men’s clubs, helping craft the one thing which can save us all – sturdy manhandling heels.

Where do we start with Lola? Ushe channels a character we identify with, regardless of dissimilarities. Yet tragically there are those who still find Lolas an alienating presence. Filling in for Callum Francis, Ushe delivers what is suspected as the main reason for a standing ovation this evening. She is fiery, yet gentle and understanding though her choreography is a touch rigid. Ushe’s comic timing is prodigious, paired with attitude his turn as Lola has us loosening those tight stitched sides. Yet, the moment Hold Me in Your Heart finishes, we are watching more than a comedy star.

There’s a lot to be said of acceptance from Kinky Boots, and ideally not simply of others but ourselves. Its story about just being exactly who you want to be isn’t revolutionary, but it’s produced in a fresh manner. The tonal shift in Act two is welcome, ramping up the Pathos as we get to the innards of our characters.

Human nature is depicted triumphantly by our cast, understudies and all. Harper-Jackson’s Charlie is hilarious, relatable but at the same time, fallible. He makes ludicrous mistakes, hurtful statements but we just can’t hate him. We disagree, we even take an intake of breath at his berating of Lola – but it feels human. Don played by Demitri Lampra similarly epitomises the ‘real man’ but isn’t a villain. He’s played with humour, gusto and a killer pair of legs.

Speaking of humour, Paula Lane’s Lauren is perhaps the embodiment of every one of the Looney Tunes. Her performance, in the hands of another, would be over the top, for her it works. The differing physical movements, almost psychotic emotional jumps all work well for Lane.

The eighties (as ever) live on through the music & lyrics crafted by Cyndi Lauper. Every track has an echo of the past contained within, either through delivery or tone. Some numbers have better-staying power than others, in particular, Land of Lola and The Soul of a Man. In tandem with Jerry Mitchell’s choreographed direction mean that our Angels deserve just as much spotlight for their exceeding talents as Ushe’s Lola.

From heel to toe, everything about Kinky Boots makes you feel empowered, the atmosphere, the music and most importantly Charlie, Lola and her Angels. This is how modern musicals should be produced, this is how to blend subject matter into enjoyment without it feeling tacked on. Kinky Bootsstands for acceptance, not just of others but yourself. It stands for sensation, vibrancy and above all others – people.

These boots are for oh so much more than walking darlings. They’re made for strutting, but most of all stamping the point home and delivering fierceness.

Runs until January 5 2019 | Image: Helen Maybanks

Book: Harvey Fierstein Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper Director: Jerry Mitchell Reviewer: Dominic Corr Even for those unfamiliar with the original cinematic release, there’s been an immense buzz surrounding the Kinky Boots musical. It doesn’t take much to get involved though, as the production itself has a tongue in cheek attitude with the unique aspects. In particular, yes, they are in fact singing about shoes. Price & Sons have always made shoes, good quality practical ones for men. Times change though, as do peoples tastes. In a daring bid to save the company from crumbling, Charlie (Joel Harper-Jackson) enlists a new…

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About The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Reviews Hub - Scotland
The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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