ComedyNorth East & YorkshireReview

Mixtape Summer Sizzlers – Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Writer and Deviser: Melanie Rashbrooke, The Mixtapers, Graeme Thompson and Nina Berry

Director: Melanie Rashbrooke

It’s back, the cult comedy music quiz show. This unique concept was originated by the Twenty Six Theatre Company seven years ago. The general definition of ‘mixtape’ is a compilation of music from multiple sources originally over 40 years ago. This company performs sketches entirely and only by using song lyrics, which can be reordered and repeated. The sketch can also be no longer than the track used.

Summer Sizzler, like all Mixtape shows is themed, full of new tunes, sketches and quiz, this one is inspired by holiday classics plus a selection from their favourite sketches of various genres. The audience are invited to play in teams guessing the song title, artist or group that inspired the sketch.

The rules are spoken over the speakers before the show and again spoken by the talented cast of seven when they first appear. The first half has 15 sections and the second 14 – no simple task for the faint hearted! The answers are given at the end of each half and the group with the most points win. In the event of a tie the team with the ‘best’ name win, so choose carefully.

Some of the cast appear in the bar during the interval to choose the best most suitably dressed group, who win a prize. Audiences are encouraged to dress in the style of the theme, so Hawaii style shirts, huge colourful sunglasses, beach attire and flower garlands abounded.

There are a plethora of costumes and characters played with great aplomb, by James Barton, Jessica Dawson, Steven Blackshaw, Caroline Liversidge, Lewis Jobson, Cameron Sharp and Hannah Walker. They make great use of their many props.

Mixtape is similar to doing a crossword, generally the more you do it the easier it is to follow; the first time can be daunting. Blaring music, playing on a loop, is not easy for the sensitive of hearing, especially starting over 15 minutes late; the raucous animated audience only adds to the noise. The loudness of the odd sung sketch makes hearing the words difficult, as did the teams excitedly speaking out clues and ideas in competition during the sketches.

Melanie Rashbrooke, the company’s artistic director, aims to create ”a social event, bringing people together for a fun night.” Summer Sizzlers achieves that, even though the constant stream of audience going back and forth to the bar for the themed cocktails can be distracting. The adrenaline and happy vibes help carry the night. As one previous winner said “we finally won the Golden Mixtape prize, more sought after than a Blue Peter Badge.” One can see looking at the entranced audience how easily the show can become addictive.

Touring the North East until 2nd September.

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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