Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Theatre, West End
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

This musical classic is possibly the least feminist thing that has ever happened, but still good fun

There are times during this revival of ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ – adapted as a stage musical in the ’80s from the 1954 MGM film musical classic – that you feel like pinching yourself, just to check you’re not dreaming. From ‘Bless Your Beautiful Hide’ to ‘Sobbin’ Women’, it exists in a crazed bubble entirely of its own.

It’s Oregon in the 1850s, and Adam (Alex Gaumond) wants a wife to care for him and his six brothers up on the mountain. He pops into town, meets Milly (Laura Pitt-Pulford) and – like a flash – they’re married and she’s introducing the rest of the clan to clean clothes, table manners and girls.

Welcome to Stockholm Syndrome: The Love Story! Men, want a wife but you’re tongue-tied and rubbish socially? Don’t worry! Let your married brother sing a jolly, knee-slapping song that might even make Robin Thicke blush, then get yourselves to the local town and abduct a woman for you! And guess what? She’ll want you in no time!

This show’s gender politics are so all over the map they’re practically in another universe, as the script winks at itself while an outraged Milly – a predictably great Pitt-Pulford, doing wonders with the role – writes the smallest footnote ever to feminism by making the brothers wait until spring before they can court the girls.

What saves it is director Rachel Kavanaugh’s cannily self-aware, Golden Age-evoking Technicolor-hued production, which steers into the skid of all the potential appallingness and emerges with a Looney Tunes sensibility, a hyper-realised feel and a strong sense of the show’s bonkers brand of naivety and snigger. It’s a stunningly well-choreographed sugar rush. 

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