18 August 2007

How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously

Seriously. Pet Shop Boys. Reinterpreted., Roxy Art House

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe once revealed that when they first formed Pet Shop Boys they had the idea of an ever-changing line-up under the PSB "brand"; two young Englishmen today, 4 raunchily dressed Japanese girls the next, 3 crusty rockers the next etc. to better suit the particular material they had written. They could do worse than fully endorse the performers in Seriously and send them out on tour.
This show is superb. It contains, to quote one of the songs not used in the show, love, sin, sex, divine intervention, death and destruction - everything for your complete entertainment. Two interconnected stories - a married couple's break up and their son's discovery of love - are told through Tennant/Lowe compositions re-arranged and inter cut in a style that can best be described as "cabaret-opera". The choice of songs, lyrics (from full readings, to repeated choruses, to single lines) and arrangements for live string quartet and piano are well made and beautifully performed. This succeeds in bringing out how wide-ranging and often deceptively touching Pet Shop Boys are as songwriters, with echoes of Sondheim at his best. Match this material with fabulous vocalists who can not only sing but act too, and you have a theatrical experience never to be forgotten.
The venue's architecture and acoustics add to the beauty of the piece as the musicians are framed inside an archway and the performers use the space effectively. Special praise should go to Maria Mercedes and Michael Howard Smith as the doomed couple, whose performance of a medley of Jealousy, I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More, You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk and Left To My Own Devices is merely the first of several show-stoppers.
Seriously is one of those shows where you want the performance to stop so you can prepare yourself to experience it. I went twice and would go again in an instant. My pick of the Fringe so far.

NTW : Some of choreography was a little ropey (but seconds out of the 75 minute running time)

JTD : You'll believe these songs were written to be performed this way, perhaps they were!

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