Barbershopera: Apocalypse No!, Trafalgar Studios, London
Wednesday 19 January 2011
Since their last outing, this harmonious four-piece comedy a capella outfit have gone up a scale and, to a certain extent, eased themselves away from the controlled irreverence I'd previously ascribed to them. This has been achieved by getting silly on a grand scale.
Apocalypse No! has God calling time on Earth, on the advice of his archangels, but the three horsemen of the apocalypse (Death calls in sick) aren't up to the task.
Their consciences are weighing heavily upon them, consciences that are further pricked by Beth, an idealistic head teacher who finds herself mistakenly saddled up as Death's substitute.
Beth (played brassily by Lara Stubbs) convinces the three that there is another way, and thus various pantoesque adventures ensue. As they unravel, so do the real personalities of the horsemen: War (the charismatic Rob Castell) is a pacifist; Famine (warmly portrayed by Tom Sadler) is an aspiring gastronome; and Pestilence (played with comic poise by Pete Sorel-Cameron), despite his ability to "make all the ladies get man flu", as his opening verse goes, is a clean freak.
The numerous twists and turns of the show do start to stretch the goodwill that the show wins in earlier scenes, of which notable examples include Beth rehearsing her school nativity play, an event that is inevitably key to the denouement. In this scene she sings of her trials at the hands of the school governors, and is backed by her pupils (portrayed by puppets) who delight in pointing out her mild profanity: "That's another rude word, Miss!"
The show resolves strongly, bringing back the archangels and God (revealed to be a toy cow) for a final flourish from a choir who hit some heavenly highs during an enjoyably light romp.
To 5 February (0844 871 7632); then touring ( www.barbershopera.com)
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Taylor Swift, 1989 - album review: Pop star shows 'promising signs of maturity'
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - review: Silly, sensational but still sensitive
The Apprentice 2014: Nurun Ahmed and Lindsay Booth sent home in double firing
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are