Only a deranged optimist would head to a show called Wag! The Musical expecting a bitingly witty deconstruction of the culture of footballers' wives and girlfriends and its impact on the values of young women.
All the same, you could be forgiven for hoping for something less shoddily empty-headed than this misbegotten mess. With a script from Tibetan author Belvedere Pashun and music and lyrics by Grant Martin, Thomas Giron-Towers and Tony Bayliss, it's a vacant, pointless compromise between ham-fisted mockery and crude glorification of the phenomenon.
Jenny and Sharron work on the beauty counter at an allegedly up-market fashion store, run by Tim Flavin's Mr Frank who is, you'll be staggered to hear, a snobby, snake-like old queen. Neither girl has been lucky in love. The former is being led astray by false promises from her married footballer boyfriend; the latter doggedly defends her physically abusive partner, despite shy overtures from Chris Grierson's caring-sharing store-cleaner, Basement Pete, who just happens to be an undiscovered singer-songwriter star.
Pete gets to strut his stuff as a last-minute replacement at the big in-store fashion-launch evening where a succession of WAGS, tottering around on vertiginous heels, deliver songs that assure us that shopping in Bond Street beats love any day and that you can't have too many “procedures”: “One thing is sure/There's no more/Of the original me”.
The question of whether we are meant to be laughing at them or with them (always supposing you can force even a smile) is complicated by the awkward casting of certain self-professed real-life WAGS. Lizzie Cundy may be a credit to her “personal spray tan artist” (who gets a listing in the programme) but she takes to the stage like a duck to glue here, while Alyssa Kyria appears to have blundered into the proceedings from a comedy club with her ebulliently ribald and badly integrated “Ariadne the Greek WAG” act.
Needless to say, these pseudo-celebs get much bigger billing than Daisy Wood-Davis and Amy Scott who, as the love-lorn shop girls, sustain the show and give a sweet force to the innocuous, barely distinguishable power-ballads. There's a toe-curling rhumba routine where the camp Mr Frank, in ruffles and with a peppy dance ensemble who are put through all manner of indignity, flaunts his not-so-secret “Quirk”. But then this is a piece that reinforces all the stereotypes that it's purportedly guying. One WAG boasts of having had 137 “procedures”. It would take many more than that to make this inept farrago presentable.
To 24 August; 08444 930 650
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