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Live / stage review

"An absolutely awful musical": I Should Be So Lucky at the Lyceum

Hit after 80's hit can't save this production from itself, writes Paul Szabo.

16 January 2024 at
I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY The Company Photo Marc Brenner
Marc Brenner

I Should Be So Lucky is a jukebox musical based on the music of songwriting trio Stock Aitkin Waterman, whereby after being jilted at the alter by her fiancé Nathan, Ella takes her bridal party on the honeymoon to a romantic Turkish resort. Finding herself newly single, she falls in love with one of the members of staff – but, of course, Nathan soon arrives with his best man in tow to win back her heart.

Known as The Hit Factory, the music from this trio of producers defined a generation and there is a collection of great tracks embedded in this production, including 'I Should Be So Lucky', 'Never Gonna Give You Up', 'Especially For You' and 'Too Many Broken Hearts'. There is an undeniable feeling of nostalgia for those of us of a certain age when you hear the songs which are packed in tightly throughout the show's runtime.

The musical numbers are generally performed by the cast with enthusiasm – even if there is an over-reliance on some of the numbers which have a few too many reprises – and it's always a pleasure to have a live orchestra rather than a recorded backing track. There is also an appearance by a virtual Kylie Minogue, as the inspirational diva who chivvies along the jilted bride, albeit with some appalling, unsubtle product placement for her Kylie-branded prosecco.

Sadly, this handful of positives are about the height of this absolutely awful musical. The writing is poor, the cliches come thick and fast, and various strands of the plot feel very similar to so many other shows – Mamma Mia!, Shirley Valentine and The Band immediately spring to mind – giving the impression that someone has taken snippets of other successful shows and blended them into one messy narrative of partly-formed ideas. Even a slew of ridiculously out-of-the-blue plot twists in the last ten minutes can’t add any depth.

Most of the characterisations were appalling. The gay characters in particular are so horrifically stereotypical that they are embarrassing to watch. The resort manager is portrayed in same way that the mainstream media portrayed the gay community in the 1970's. Imagine a full-on Larry Grayson or John Inman style caricature and you’re not far off. The good-time-loving gay BFF of the bride doesn’t fare any better, peaking in a cringe-inducing moment where, when hooking up with a gay resort worker, he states, “I didn’t know you were… you know…” and then gives a limp-wrist gesture, before asking to be “stuffed like a kebab”.

The Turkish characters aren’t done any favours either – cue the belly dancers, the 'hilarious' over the top foreign accents akin to Manuel in Fawlty Towers and comments like, “Oh, I didn’t think you were allowed to be gay in Turkey.”

The comedy is unnecessarily crude and crass. Attempts are made to mine humour from an oversexed pensioner repeatedly referring to her vajazzle, the useless husband who only arrives at the resort when he runs out of pre-cooked meals, and the oh-so-comedic possibility that two men could actually fall in love.

The production is just as brash. The set is swathed in pink and comparisons to last year’s cinematic mega hit Barbie are unavoidable, reinforcing a feeling of unoriginality. Love hearts cover absolutely everything to the point where it becomes overwhelming sickly sweet, the costumes are basic, the inflatable props look cheap and corny and the migraine-inducing garishness of it all suggests that the phrase 'less is more' never crossed the minds of the show's creative team.

This is one of the worst shows I have seen for many years. Coming across as a blend between Mrs Brown’s Boys and Benidorm, it may well find its audience. It feels lazily put together and relies solely on the songs to carry it. And whilst a throwback to some 80’s pop classics is welcome, a throwback to some 80’s attitudes is not.

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