Creator: Lucy McCormick with Morven Mulgrew
The pandemic meant that many theatres had to redesign their spaces, with surprising results in some places. The Orange Tree ripped out its famous banquette seating, the NT’s Olivier is now in the round, but none is more exciting than the Battersea Arts Centre’s remodelling of its Grand Hall. It looks fantastic, but the elegant space completely overwhelms the BAC’s first show of 2021.
Emptied of its raked bleachers, the Grand Hall lives up to its name with exposed brickwork, a vaulted ceiling and silver organ pipes arranged like a 1960s’ sculpture. Lucy McCormick and her band are almost swallowed up by the room that was virtually destroyed in the fire of 2015. Indeed, the best part of this mock pop concert is when McCormick lets us see and hear the room in all its glory.
McCormick plays pop star Lucy Muck on tour for the first time. She’s full of herself, blames her mistakes on others and patronises her audience. It’s a stereotype we’ve seen before, and there is no narrative as such and so little more of the young pop princess is known. What we haven’t seen before are the DIY props and homemade outfits that she uses in her performance.
The joke is that she thinks these costumes are edgy and artistic, but we can see how clumsy they are and they make her look like a third-rate Madonna, a bargain basement Gaga or a half-price Cher. Helping her in and out of these tinfoil frocks or rubber gowns and almost stealing the show is the earnest Morven Mulgrew, called here, in the best gag of the evening, ‘an aesthetic practitioner’. Mulgrew is also in charge of special effects, and these are just as comical as the dresses.
The first number, Let You Go, is so full of costume changes and drama that the show is never better than this opening scene, meaning the show loses momentum as quickly as it begins. The songs that range from punk to rock are often quite good, especially Rain, which is at odds with the satirical nature of the piece. Surely all the songs should be bad as Are You Well? which rhymes well with well.
At 70 minutes, the show’s deliberate gaucheness wears thin, and each special effect is less pleasing than the one before, and it seems an odd decision to have the show’s climax at the very start. McCormick is joined on stage by musicians Dave Page and Chloe Rianna and together they make quite a noise but, while there are a few moments which cause the audience to laugh and clap, this show is not as funny as it thinks it is.
Runs until 15 July 2021