Gap Year: A Musical Comedy

Sat 13th October 2012

reviews

Becky Jowsey

at 05:31 on 14th Oct 2012

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Things were not boding well for a night of cheery musical comedy. The zip had snapped off my new handbag, trapping my house keys inside, and as I fought with it I slid slowly to the back of the queue for seats. Thus, perched inelegantly with stubby fat legs dangling from a great height on one of the far corner barstools nobody wanted to sit on, half blinded by the unfortunate reflection from the house lights off the guitarist's shiny Electric, I was all set up to pass the evening enveloped in a thick fog of out-and-out grumpiness.

The little band of lads jamming Eric Clapton style gentle riffs in the corner calmed my nerves a little and I settled, uncomfortably, moodily, in to watch the play. I soon forgot my sulks. "Gap Year" is a gem, rough around the edges but beaming out brightly with enthusiasm and glee.

We centre on Tom, the endearing hapless accountant's son who goes on Gap Year to "find himself" and the zany characters he meets along the way. Joe Hind, as Tom, is excellent, with an expressive face and vocal range as he embodies that middle class British sentiment of "oh I'm not so sure about this anymore" down to a tee. Glynn Jones puts in a similarly excellent performance, particularly as The Oracle, a kind of 'Orlando the Yah come good' of mystical status amongst backpackers. On a blank set with few props, cast including Katie Brennan and her excellent lungs, beaming Denise Goff (who seemed to have lost her voice) as a variety of female support characters and Bethan McCann who played the love interest Holly, whose character I found singularly unlikable, being bossy, neurotic and weirdly callous, worked together with the small band to produce a bright and cheery musical with a feel-good factor.

The jokes were a little obvious, relying on immature but good natured classic jokes about gays having fabulous taste in shoes and truck drivers who pick up hitchhikers all being mass-murders; it's not challenging, but it's a good laugh. Certainly the audience, mainly older people including friends and family of the cast, seemed to have a good night. The musical elements followed suite, upbeat, slightly simplistic, but bouncing along full of energy and given soulful oomph by Brennan's aforementioned lungs.

My primary issue with the production, however, was the sheer number of different accents on display, all with varying degrees of "hmm, not quite" about them. Luke Nicholoson sustained his Australian voices the best of them all, but was still susceptible to the occasional wobble - and why, oh why, (oh why, oh why) did every actor switch to a Broadway American twang when singing the "show 'toones" ?! Deeply incongruous. Despite this I was drawn in by the story and chortled along happily to the songs and jokes; imbibed with innocence and playfulness, this was a fun play to watch.

Well paced and with great comic timing, the show zips along with a smile and a song and was generally an evening well spent. I enjoyed the production a great deal and felt the actors showed great versatility on such a sparse set; it is difficult to pull off a colourful and imaginative musical against a scraggy black curtain and with old lab stools for props, but they managed it. A romp well worth your beer money.

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