I’m not sure about you, but I think there’s a limit on how many times the use of the word ‘tampon’ can be amusing in a song, even if the writers’ tongues are lodged firmly in their cheeks.
The intention behind Simon James Collier and Richard Bates’s exhausting musical, according to the programme notes, is to ‘hold up a mirror’ to the fringe theatre scene in London. It follows washed-up producer Brian Wilts (Jonathan Barnes) who decides to turn his worthy play, bankrolled by the Femlette Feminine Hygiene Corporation, into an all singing, all dancing musical called ‘The Life and Death of a Tampon’. Gathering together a creative team who clash and a group of dodgy actors, we watch as this car-crash of a show takes shape.
Bates’s music is actually not bad. The songs are varied, fairly catchy and performed well by an enthusiastic cast. It’s the book that’s the problem. It’s obviously supposed to be a piss-take, but the plot jumps are ridiculous, so that instead of laughing, you’re just left bewildered.
Moreover, Brian’s reasoning for suddenly deciding to swap to a musical just doesn’t make sense and for the rest of the show you can’t help but wonder why on earth they are bothering to go through this hell.
The cheap digs quickly get cheaper – especially when a rival show called ‘Vaginal Thrush – The First Itch’ is introduced half way through. But it’s the second act that’s the weakest with a climax which is, frankly, pretty lame. By ending on a positive note the writers were presumably attempting to comment on the tireless capacity for bad musicals to put a happy tint on pretty much any subject. But here it feels like a rushed cop-out.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell