Until 23rd May, Eurovision fans in London have a rare opportunity to see a production of Jonathan Harvey's 1995 play Boom-bang-a-bang. Monty Moncrieff attended last night's opening night and has kindly produced a review of the show for esctoday.com.
The tiny Etcetera Theatre, located above a pub in north London, is stepping back in time for the next couple of weeks to relive the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest. The venue is playing host to a fringe production of Boom-bang-a-bang, a revival by the About Turn Theatre Company, where the action takes place at a Eurovision party that the guests won’t forget in a hurry. Host Lee is nervous as it’s his first Eurovision since the death of his partner Michael. He is anxious to maintain the tradition of throwing a party, but some friends have decided to host their own get-together as they think the evening may be too awkward and impact on his grief. But Lee will have a houseful of some stalwart friends, and a mismatch of personalities who have come along to show their support.
From the off you can cut the tension with a knife, as bitchy queen Steph (brilliant played by real-life Eurovision fan and the Retro Bar’s Douze Points regular Dan Hyde who also founded the theatre company) trades witty insults with Lee’s sister, friends and neighbours. As the evening progresses the characters’ relationships with one another develop amid an atmosphere of suspicion, gossip, and some unlikely pairings! Jonathan Harvey’s fast-paced script is full of hilarious and risqué one-liners that have the audience laughing out loud, with one or two gasps at the cheekiness of the writing.
Although the play isn’t actually about Eurovision itself, setting the action on the night of the 1995 Contest allows the author – a self-confessed fan of the show – to drop in references that fans will instantly recognise, and the feeling of anticipation in the build up to the show will be familiar to anyone who has ever held or attended a Eurovision party. How will they cope if Love City Groove gets nul points? Will the rest of Europe vote for a rap song? Or might the United Kingdom get relegated next year? (Oh yes, we’re whisked back to the days before the Big 4 had automatic qualification!)
The writer Jonathan Harvey, who also penned the play-turned-film Beautiful Thing, as well as popular TV sitcoms Gimme Gimme Gimme, and Beautiful People (which itself featured an episode set at the 1998 Contest in Birmingham and a cameo appearance by winner Dana International) is always in command of his trademark larger-than-life, mainly gay, characters. Of particular note are the lovable Roy, who can’t help but say the wrong thing, and the brash foul-mouthed Tania whose snappy retorts are a delight to witness, although you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of her harsh tongue. Eventually the action descends into a mix of good old British farce laced with some more tender moments and a good few surprises thrown in for good measure, but it’s the humour that wins through for a very enjoyable night out.
Boom-bang-a-bang plays until May 23rd at the Etcetera Theatre, upstairs at the Oxford Arms, 265 Camden High St, London NW1 7BU www.etceteratheatre.com More details are available on the About Turn Theatre Company’s website www.aboutturn.co.uk
Directed by Marc Nykolyszyn.
Lee: Daniel Lane
Norman: Mark Stanway
Wendy: Lliana Bird
Steph: Dan Hyde
Roy: Billy Knowles
Tanya: Velile Tshabalala
Nick: Marek Davies
Designer: Justin Arienti
Stage Manager: Vicky Kennie
Esctoday.com would like to thank Monty Moncrieff for his review of the show.