Writer: Warner Brown
Director & Choreographer: Craig Revel Horwood
Reviewer: Daryl Holden
Son Of A Preacher Man finds its story in three strangers who come together to find the “preacher man” after each of them have suffered different kinds of love and loss in their lives. Who was the preacher man? Well, he was a man who ran a record shop back in the 60’s and is now dead. His son now runs the shop and has made it into a café to get with the times and wants nothing to do with these people. Nonetheless, these three strangers beseech the son of the preacher man to sort out each of their respective lives for them because they won’t do it themselves. Does it sound ridiculous yet? Unfortunately, this only the first half hour.
The plot of this piece is lacking to say the least. So much happens with so many threads and avenues that you can be forgiven for getting lost or losing interest. The script only appears to exist to add words in between the songs of Dusty Springfield, characters suffer from personality changes towards the final twenty minutes just to add some last-minute drama, and each characters conclusion feels shoehorned. However, what is missing in the script is made up for in other ways.
The music and singing within this show is nothing short of fantastic. The songs have been changed around in tempo and story since they were first performed by Dusty, but it is all in good taste, and suits the moments of the scene and talents of their respective performers well.
There are also some truly passionate performances here. The writing is at fault and not the actors, who try their best to make the most of that they’ve got. While each performance is noteworthy and of the highest calibre, special mention must be given to Nigel Richards, as Simon, who brings life and comedy to the stage from the moment he sets foot on it. While the focus is supposed to be on the antics of Alison, Kat and Paul, Simon is the true protagonist of the piece, and the through line tying it all together.
A beautiful set by Morgan Large, brings us from streets to storefronts, and from storefronts to the insides of the stores themselves. However, the set struggles sometimes to capture the essence of a more enclosed space, and we in turn fail to imagine said space to its full potential. This issue seems to be shared by the director of the piece, Craig Revel Horwood, whose decisions are questionable at the best of times. Most notable of these decisions is the heavy use of mass choreography during songs, ripping our attention away from where it’s supposed to be. This is even more true when the entire ensemble is used at once, ripping us out of the scene altogether.
This show has some talented people involved, however it seems some questionable directing and a weak script are what prove to be its undoing. All in all, if you’re looking for a polished jukebox musical that marries fantastic songs and performances with an equally brilliant script, you’d best keep looking. This ones still a little Dusty.
Runs until 7 July 2018 | Image: Contributed