A lively tribute to Brit rockLesley Stones
Lesley Stones: Ah, Christmas must be on the horizon.
Why else would Sandton’s theatre put on such a ‘don’t worry be happy’ production as London Live if it wasn’t with the aim of attracting office parties.
It’s one of those shows with lots of songs and a little bit of banter holding it together, where everybody has a couple of drinks, a couple of laughs and – hopefully – ends up dancing,
There are plenty of these rehashed musicals doing the rounds, and sadly this isn’t one of the better quality attempts. It has a nice idea behind it, set in a defunct London nightclub that staged everyone from Tom Jones to Robbie Williams. So it’s very much a Barnyard type of show, but pared down to two people.
Kieran Rennie and Ashleigh Harvey wrote the script and play the nightclub hosts, belting out songs from the 60s through to the 90s.
Rennie and Harvey have got the accents and the chit-chat just about right, with a few funny one-liners as they talk us through the years. But a show like this is mostly about the songs, and while both have decent voices and Rennie plays a good guitar, they fall short of the standards we know from the stars they are trying to emulate.
My partner was convinced the sound system was to blame, with too much treble, not enough bass and a lack of middle notes. I just thought they’re not working with the most stunning voices to start with. For a couple of numbers the lighting was wonky too, with one atmospherically back-lit number leaving the singers in the dark.
There are plenty of fun and funky costumes, so it’s just a matter of turning up the charisma and perhaps sprinkling in a few more jokes or observations to elevate the show into a more polished event.
Harvey is a natural as a chirpy little Cockney sparrow, but needs to work on her sultry side to pull off numbers like Shirley Bassey’s Big Spender, which cries out for some simmering sex appeal.
And Rennie is just far too nice to do justice to Joe Strummer of The Clash. When he sings “I fought the law and the law won,” he could be had up for inflicting grievous bodily harm on a song. Add some snarl and anger, man, make us believe.
London Live has lots of hits, but there’s a little something missing. Yet all around me the audience was clapping along, whistling and, yes, at the end people were dancing too.
London Live runs at Sandton’s Old Mutual Theatre on the Square until November 17.
Lesley Stones is a former Brit who is now proudly South African.
She started her career by reviewing rock bands for a national UK music paper, then worked for various newspapers before spending four fun-filled years in Cairo, where she ended up editing a technology magazine.
Lesley was the Information Technology Editor for Business Day for 12 years before quitting to go freelance, specialising in travel & leisure writing and being opinionated about life in general. Her absolute passions are travel, theatre, the cinema, wining and dining.
Auto & General Theatre on the Square., West Street Sandown Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa