Viva Forever! Reviews round-up

The reviews are in - and they stink

The Spice Girls were in London last night to promote new musical Viva Forever! penned by their good friend Jennifer Saunders and including their greatest hits from "Wannabe" to “Spice Up Your Life”.

The show was greeted enthusiastically by fans. Crowds gathered outside the Piccadilly Theatre in central London and all five Spice Girls were there to see the show's launch (although Victoria was late and so posed with her family).

But what do the critics think?

The Independent's Paul Taylor really, really wanted more silliness from the show. He writes: "The Spice Girls’ songs, with their clever hooks and catchy rhythms, are better at projecting an attitude than fleshing out a dramatic situation and it also indicates marked deficiencies in Jennifer Saunders’ charmless, messy, lacklustre book. Not only does her script rarely give you that necessary gleeful sense of expectancy about where the songs are going to be shoe-horned in, but it’s embarrassingly derivative of Mamma Mia! and looks  way past its sell-by date in its utterly surprise-free satiric swipe at X Factor."

The Telegraph's Charles Spencer gave the show a meagre one star calling it "fatuous and tawdry". He writes "I’ll tell you what I wanted, what I really, really wanted – I wanted this terrible show to stop...Jennifer Saunders’s script is almost insultingly banal as she tells the story of a group of lippy teenagers with more than a passing resemblance to the Spice Girls attempting to achieve fame on an X-factor-style talent show."

The Guardian's Alexis Petridis awarded it three stars, praising the cast as "largely great, particularly given that they have caricatures rather than characters to work with", but says the production's real problem is the songs. He writes: "In fairness, the Spice Girls had a handful of decent songs – "Stop" and "Say You'll Be There" among them – but elsewhere they're forced to rely on pretty vaporous album tracks such as Right Back At Ya and, at one panic-inducing moment, delve into the solo oeuvre of Geri Halliwell. For another, the lyrics are required to drive the action on, and the lyrics of Spice Girls songs are appalling."

The Huffington Post's Caroline Frost succinctly summed up the productions failures as needing more songs and some plot. She writes: "The only time the show came to life was, in fact, after it finished, with the whole cast prancing around joyfully to a reprise of 'Spice Up Your Life', played with the volume up, the requisite arms in the air (including the Spice Girls themselves, of course, in resolute cheer-leader mode), and big, conspiratorial smiles to the audience - you love this, too, right?Which we do. And which kind of makes you wonder why the producers didn't just hire a nightclub and make it a Viva Forever!-themed night, instead of all this hand-wringing nonsense about friendship never ending, and being true to yourself."

The Stage's Lisa Martland writes that the production failed to grab its audience. "Right from the start, during an overlong first scene which desperately tries to introduce all the characters in one contrived swoop, it is impossible not to make comparisons with its triumphant predecessor. Again the book revolves around a young woman (Viva) on a journey of discovery, of ‘finding herself’ and working out relationships with her mother and close friends. Except that this time there is not a missing father, but an absent birth mother created for some extra dramatic tension."

The Evening Standard's Henry Hitchings found this "limp" show only livened up at the encore. "One of the main reasons for the Spice Girls’ success was their big and contrasting personalities. Those are absent here. What remains is their music: a couple of brilliantly effervescent tunes, a few other catchy numbers, and a lot that even their fans might struggle to hum. When ‘Spice Up Your Life’ is performed, it’s a genuinely buzzy moment. But there aren’t enough really potent songs to make this a compelling jukebox musical. The first half is limp, the second better yet hardly electrifying.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate