A sort of fringe parody of Off-Broadway musicals, I imagine Ian McFarlane’s ‘Betwixt!’ was quite the hoot when it premiered at the King’s Head a couple of years back, especially after a pint or three. But transferred to the sterile Trafalgar 2, with a demi-famous cast, a £25 ticket price and nary a pint in sight, it feels way out of its comfort zone.
In present day Manhattan, one-hit literary wonder Bailey (Benedict Salter) is struggling to start his second novel. Arriving home dejectedly, he is accosted by irrepressibly camp actor Cooper (Steven Webb, a tornado of narcissistic energy and the funniest thing in the show by some measure); before long, the two blunder into a sword ’n’ sorcery-style fantasy universe, where hijinks ensue.
‘Betwixt!’ is best at its most impishly fringey, as in an early scene where Cooper brazenly mocks the lameness of the set and his own deus ex machina role. But elsewhere it’s too in thrall to the sort of misguidedly earnest concept musicals it’s supposed to be taking the piss out of. After the ebullient start, it begins to take itself far too seriously, with a mawkish romantic subplot and some unpleasantly sentimental ballads killing the early buzz.
Directing, McFarlane brings little clarity to his convoluted book – there are tears in the eyes of (miscast) veteran US actress Ellen Greene as she delivers her final speech, but I think she may have just been trying to work out what the hell was going on.
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Have to agree with Kate.... bloody funny show, although Ellen Greene isn't in it any-more. The woman who's took over is hilarious though. Very silly, but so so funny. go and see it, although I'm sure it has a longer life in it.
This was the funniest musical I have ever seen! The cast were superb, just thinking about the songs makes me laugh, and I can not recommend this show enough for a very fun night out!