The Blues Brothers - Summer Special

Theatre, Musicals
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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A night of nostalgia too far

The Blues Brothers are a great constant of the entertainment world. The act that started on Saturday Night Live in the '70s before finding success on the big screen has become synonymous with sunglasses, saxophones and the words ‘good night out’.

This latest tribute wouldn’t seem at all out of place on a cruise ship; it’s loud, brash and packed with the usual Blues Brothers favourites (which contain notably little in the way of actual blues). Leads Joshua Mumby (Elwood) and David Kristopher-Brown (Jake) make a decent central pairing. The former, who also directs, proves a dab hand at the harmonica, while the latter is admirably agile. But everything is delivered with the subtlety and soul of a sledgehammer. Jake’s tender rendition of Guilty - ‘it takes a whole lot of medicine darling / for me to pretend that I'm somebody else’ – briefly threatens pathos, then it’s back to bashing through the hits. 

The cabaret space at the Hippodrome, reached by snaking through the blackjack tables, has been steadily increasing the quality of its programme in recent years. So it’s a shame this production feels so by-numbers. The seven-piece band play well enough and the back-up singers are fine, but a few rictus grins give the game away. And why does the volume have to be so ear-splitting? The venue is small, just 230 seats, but the levels are turned to ‘O2’.

Lyrics get distorted, over-mic’d instruments melt into a homogenous backing track. An opportunity to offer something stripped down, laid back and, well, summery, is missed.

Plenty were on their feet dancing by the end, and good luck to them. Who am I to tell them this is tired, cynical stuff? Everybody needs somebody to love. I’m just not convinced they need another Blues Brothers show.

By: Theo Bosanquet



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