"Fringe theatre doesn't get any better than this" 5 stars Briarkitesme.com "Wonderful" 4.5 stars LondonTheatre1.com
"Fringe theatre doesn't get any better than this" 5 Stars. Briarkitesme.com
Currently playing twice every Sunday until 15 March 2015 at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington, London, Stand and Deliver is a musical comedy (I was unreliably assured that it is one of Boris Johnson’s favourite plays) that grabs audience members by the scruffs of their necks and takes them on a bewildering time-travelling ride in the company of a football fan-cum-highwayman, his two kids, a lascivious TV reporter, and a third-rate football pundit … among others.
With belting renditions of hit songs from the 1980s (including the titular Stand and Deliver), and comedy from the sharpened nib of writer Wayne Gumble, the show delivers far more than it might appear to promise at first sight.
It would be all too easy for Stand and Deliver to play like an adult pantomime – replete with enough bawdy innuendos to make all of the Carry On films and Fifty Shades of Grey blush with embarrassment – but thanks to Wayne Gumble’s fiercely honed script, Ella Marchment’s wonderfully imaginative directing, and Alfred Taylor-Gaunt’s charmingly narrative choreography, the ribald pantomime slides easily into sharp-witted farce and then moves on to become an entirely far more captivating and visual tour de force. A feast for eyes, ears and minds. A sublime onslaught of originality and artistry that makes it impossible to assimilate everything in just one sitting.
When members of the cast become scenery and/or props (including a brilliant scene in which at the flick of a switch the “TV” changes from showing a slow-motion replay on Match of the Day to a re-run of Carry On Camping); when members of the audience are pulled – rather willingly – on to the stage to act as trees; and when the actors throw comic asides to the audience about the show’s fringe-theatre budget, you begin to realise that Stand and Deliver is far more than the sum of its parts.
In musical comedies, the storytelling often staggers uneasily as it navigates the changes between its gags, songs and dances, but under Ella Marchment’s direction, the transitions are fluid, dynamic and stimulating. The actors deliver their lines at pace, while skilfully shifting between scenes and managing to sing and dance simultaneously … although it is perhaps wrong to describe their movements as dance, given that every single motion and scene change has both meaning and humour. This is not a play in which the actors resort to lacklustre formation dancing: this is action and interaction on a bewilderingly intoxicating scale.
When two of the actors start to sing the song from Dirty Dancing, the audience can’t help but wonder how they will manage the lift that was made famous in the movie, and which has been parodied ever since.
The conundrum in Stand and Deliver is all the greater given that the actor carrying the weight of the move has to lift a bearded partner who is more generously proportioned than he is. The grace, wit and simplicity with which the lift is achieved is utterly beguiling and thrilling. It is rightly greeted with a roar of applause and approval from the audience.
Where other directors and choreographers might opt for an unimaginative lift, flop and unedifying grope in order to get cheap laughs, Ella Marchment and Alfred Taylor-Gaunt offer a solution that cherishes the actors, values the audience, and marks the creative pair out as rather unique and determinedly avant-garde talents.
The cast fill the stage with so much wit, warmth and energy that it is hard to believe that the whole production relies on just ten actors. And thanks to the even-handedness of Wayne Gumble’s writing, all of the actors have opportunities to stand in the spotlight and shine.
Sara Lynam’s exquisitely lascivious TV presenter spars and cavorts outrageously with Joey Bartram’s keenly nuanced football pundit (his “you can’t win anything with kids” joke manages to work on so many levels), while Alex Murphy’s powerful and weirdly believable transition from 1980s’ football fan to 18th-century highwayman tees the play up perfectly for a belting delivery of Adam Ant’s Stand and Deliver. (Half of the audience mouth the words inaudibly in true we-want-to-sing-along fashion.)
Robyn Howe and Rob Peacock shine as Alex Murphy’s onstage family (Rob Peacock’s post-play transformation rendering him almost unrecognisable … such good acting); and Rebecca Travers brings great comic timing and bravura to the tavern-owning character of Nell Cleavidge.
Of all the characters in the play, Penny Flats – as the Cruella-de-Villian baddy – is the most complex, challenging and unlovable, and yet the lyrical Laura Coutts manages to make her rhyming-couplet character come alive with real panache. Wah-ha-ha-ha-ha.
Charles Timson plays the bumbling referee Renato with suitably shambolic aplomb, and Regan Gumble as Mrs Fenton puts in an admirable and witty turn – especially when riffing insults with her onstage husband.
And in Adam Scott Pringle (as both Mr Fenton and Boscombe Chart), the show has an actor who manages to engage the audience with self-assured ease: there’s more than just a hint of Ewan McGregor and James McAvoy in the Scottish actor’s confident delivery and presence.
Polishing the production from the wings are Daniel Turek as musical director and pianist; and stage manager April Lindsay, who deftly keeps the play on track, well timed, and well lit throughout.
All in all, Stand and Deliver offers just short of two hours of ribald and frenetic entertainment that is taken to an altogether more sublime level thanks to its wonderfully creative and imaginative production standards. Go and see it for its sharp script, its enthralling directing, its clever choreography, and its perfectly pitched and engaging cast. You’ll love it. It is inventiveness and wit turned up to eleventy-stupid: an anarchically wonderful must-see play that does so much more than anyone has the right to hope. For sheer entertainment, fringe theatre doesn’t get any better than this. Even big-budget productions would struggle to keep up.
"Wonderful" 4.5 stars
STAND AND DELIVER at the King’s Head Theatre February 16, 2015 by Terry Eastham
Ever think that occasionally all you really want from a theatrical experience is a good, fun night out, where you can willingly suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the show? Yep me too, and luckily you can, by getting down to the King’s Head Theatre and seeing Wayne Gumble’s production of “Stand and Deliver”
Fenton (Adam Scott Pringle) – a man who believes he shares some physical resemblances to Stansted Airport – is moving home and hands over a box of delights to his best friend, and fellow Enfield FC, supporter Frank Goldenboy (Alex Murphy) who returns home rather than listen to yet another argument between Fenton and his wife (Regan Gumble). On the way home Frank manages to receive a blow to the head (either by falling over after 1 too many sherberts or being attacked by a local hoody) and returns to his garage where his two adoring children Paris (Robyn Howe) and Antwerp (Rob Peacock) are having a bit of a clear out. Now, what Frank doesn’t know is that his life is being observed by the latest in reality television shows. Hosted by the (some might say vampish, others might think slut) Ulrika Pearce (Sara Lynam) and her football pundit side-kick Mmbop Hansen (Joey Bartram), they keep a very close eye on Frank and his children, and provide a commentary on their doings.
Looking through Fenton’s box brings back happy memories of the 1980s to Frank, when his club were almost FA Cup giant killers. Alas, those days are long gone and Frank wishes there were a way he could go back and not only assist the club in winning, but also help him stop his arch nemesis, dodgy rhyming couplet speaking property developer – is there any other kind? – Penny Flats (Laura Coutts) and corrupt ref/awful singer Clive Urinal/Renato (Charles Timson). As if this wasn’t enough, Frank also has a dream not connected with football. He wants to be an 18th Century highwayman, on the run from the law and finding peace and sanctuary in the generously proportioned body of a local inn-keeper such as Nell Cleavidge (Rebecca Travers). Can a determined man with a fanatical love for his team, awful trainers and the magical properties of a copy of the old club magazine ‘Naughty Sport’ help?
The journey that Frank and his family undertake is just amazing. Helped along with classic tracks from the 1980s – you may have to stop yourself singing along – and wonderful references to television and films of the time, this production is a roller-coaster of fun and anarchic frolics. Rather like that stalwart of my Saturday mornings in the early 80s, TISWAS, the show goes at a madcap pace with some of the worst ‘dad’ jokes and puns I’ve ever heard – Wayne Gumble may have a job on the side writing Christmas cracker jokes.
It must really difficult to put on a show like this. There has to be a temptation to keep adding elements until suddenly the show has run away and become a parody of itself, but Director Ella Marchment has managed to navigate this stream successfully. “Stand and Deliver” is mad enough that the audience sit back and join in with its twists and tales but at no time takes itself too seriously. The script really helps with marvellous nods back to the innuendo and fun of the early ‘Carry On’ films as does the delivery by a highly energetic cast clearly loving every minute on the stage. There are some wonderful touches in the show. I loved the ‘living’ furniture, especially the television in the Fenton’s house switching from ‘Match of the Day’ to ‘Carry on Camping’ at the flick of a button. Musical Director (Daniel Turek) is a dab hand at the ivories and provided a wonderful accompaniment to the really excellent singing voices of the cast (Renato excluded of course ‘Save Your Love’ should never, ever, ever, ever be heard again) and the choreography by Alfred Taylor-Gaunt made great use of the cast’s abilities to fill the relatively small stage area.
So, all in all, a really wonderful evening’s entertainment in which it was so easy to ‘Relax’, realise ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’, from entering a ‘Mad World’ where if you are wondering ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ the answer is, you should definitely stay and watch something truly ‘Atomic’
Review by Terry Eastham
Stand and Deliver, The Mitre - Review - October 2013 everythingtheatre.com
"...fantastic, highly entertaining..classic 80’s tunes punctuate the show"
Pros: Bundles of energy and enthusiasm, audience participation and a top selection of cheesy 80’s tracks make this an enjoyable and entertaining show.
Cons: Being performed in an empty shop front provided challenges for the direction and the flow of action is not as tight as it could be. Some of the performances are weak, probably due to casting issues on the day. The band is too loud for the actors’ voices at times as there are no sound facilities at this particular venue.
Our Verdict: There is work to do on this production – the staging and flow of the action needs to be tightened up and some of the performances need strengthening, however it is entertaining and enjoyable.
Saturday afternoon in an empty shopfront on Upper Street, Islington is an unlikely venue for a musical. Part of the Oxjam Festival, Stand and Deliver gives an admirable account of itself in this tiny pop up venue. Impressively, it included a well stocked bar and a friendly welcome from the writer/producer, Wayne Gumble. e show is still in production and experienced some unforeseen issues with the cast on the day so this needs to be taken into account when writing this review as it was not a finished product. Despite the venue limitations and the weaker performances, it succeeded in being entertaining and in putting a smile on my face.
The plot is made up of several strands of humorous circumstances which seem unrelated yet intertwine to provide the comedy, sewn together with commentary from TV presenters. It’s a cheesy tale of one man’s attempt to rescue his non league, local football team from the clutches of an evil developer as well as his desire to be a 18th century highwayman. He is full of reminiscences of the 80’s, assisted by a football publication with magical powers. There is a lot of interest and
action, which at times is difficult to follow, as there is little in the way of staging and lighting at this venue, making the scene changes undefined. The action doesn’t flow as easily as it should and there is some work to do on the comic timing, which I’m sure will come with further development. The characters are well written and purposeful, bringing lots of colour and contrast to the show. The performances on the whole are fun and enthusiastic and the cast work hard at engaging the audience and encouraging participation. There are some weaker performances, probably due to the casting problems on the day so I won’t dwell on them. They are compensated for by the exuberant lead roles.
The real win in my eyes is the fantastic, highly entertaining and very appropriate use of classic 80’s tunes to punctuate the show. The cast really get stuck in and sing their hearts out, encouraging the audience to join in and sing along. They are supported by a live backing band and the energy really escalates. I thoroughly enjoyed the music, despite the fact the band were a little loud for the voices without microphones at this particular venue. There are also various film clips being projected (onto the ceiling at this performance) cleverly adding atmosphere and supporting the storyline.
This show, with the cheesy 80’s tunes, football interest and time travel, is bound to appeal to a wide audience. It does needs tightening up in the stage direction, timing and acting performances. However, with further development and lots of stage specific rehearsal supported by theatrical sound and lighting, it has great
potential to be a fun and entertaining theatre experience.
Stand and Deliver was performed as part of the Oxjam Festival on 19th October 2013.
Reviews from December 2012 production
"An absolute blast...
"it's all brilliantly bonkers" ***
REVIEW DATE: 20/12/2012
Part fantasy, part opera and wholly tongue-in-cheek, Stand and Deliver! is a musical misadventure about the head of a family who attempts to recapture his glossy 80s youth. At the King's Head Theatre.
It all sounds wrong on paper: dream sequences, a Football fanzine personified, and 80s tunes providing the musical set-list of a surreal production. Wayne Gumble's Stand and Deliver! is charming and warming.
The bereaved Goldenboy family are cleaning their garage for an unspecified amount of time following the mother's death. They, joined by a chorus, sing Tears for Fears' Mad World, and the whole production becomes a time-travelling sequence of events. A track list of nostalgic hits doesn't rouse the 80s feeling alone. It harks back to a soft-edged period of innocence and adventure: discovering love, aspiration and sex.
Stand and Deliver! is energetic and the twee elements are all very knowing. Sport commentators wink to and nudge the audience, making it clear that we are witnessing a fantasised portrayal of life rather than a serious attempt to imitate it. Names like Antwerp ("Twerp!"), Nell Cleavage, Clive Urinal and central protagonist Frank Goldenboy are Christmas cracker jokes: painfully obvious, but the cringe is where the comedy lies.
The absurdity is beguiling. The Carry On... style innuendo, the perils of time-travel, Frank Goldenboy's change of career to a gun-toting 19th Century highwayman... it's all brilliantly bonkers. It's impossible not to become awash with the frenzy. The Evil Stepmother equivalent in the production is Penny Flats (Christine Corser), a vampy football club owner – think Margaret Thatcher in a different profession, a bit of a sex symbol and with a habit of speaking only in rhyming couplets.
Andy Thomas is hilarious as soprano Renato, while Paris Goldenboy (Kara Lily Hayworth) and Match of the Day/Stand and Deliver! commentator Ulrika
Pearce (Terema Wainwright) give a unique, joyful energy to every scene they're in. Hayworth's singing voice is remarkable: strong, beautiful and entrancing. Nigel Barker's Frank Goldenboy managed to capture a youthful spark and appetite for adventure.
Stand and Deliver! is organised chaos: part fantasy, part opera and wholly tongue-in-cheek. The audience and cast are all in the joke together. Live musical accompaniment adds a very personal feel, as does the performers' clear
enjoyment and the madcap adventures they are performing.
REVIew - alan watkins
This is a must see show folks...if you want a good value for money night out book on-line and head off to The Kings Head Theatre, Islington...Fri 28th or Sat 29th...Hilarious musical comedy,
"very funny, very clever, well-written"
VIEW THE FULL REVIEW HERE
REVIEW DATE: 21/12/2012
No Fear of Thalia - what a splendid change for a drama group to have such an inventive and playful name...Could the company live up to the wit and irreverence of their name with their presentation of a new piece, lovingly nurtured and brought to fruition by way of workshop productions, as devised, written and produced by Wayne Gumble?
Thanks to spirited and energetic playing, and imaginative if esoteric writing, the happy answer is yes - this was a highly enjoyable hour and a half with plenty of different facets of interest and identifiable points of reference for the audience to key into. Wayne Gumble drew on subjects close to the heart of contemporary life but not necessarily automatically inter-related. The highs, lows, joys and sorrows of supporting a football team through a momentous time in their history, provided the main narrative and drive of the play. This was all underscored throughout by contemporary musical
references, and in particular,1980s pop songs performed with gusto by the cast.
It was probably beneficial to be empathetic and knowledgeable to the world of football, and how it is experienced at fan level, to derive the fullest
enjoyment possible from the play - some of the references may just have had a degree of obscurity to some of the audience! Their was an evident love and passion for the football club in question (Enfield FC) and how emotions and moods of a club's faithful followers are engaged. This aspect shone through
brightly in the writing. Amy Gunn as Director had to pull various strands of activity and storyline together which she attained with style, giving the piece
warmth vibrancy and pace .
As the main character Frank Goldenboy, Nigel Barker played engagingly with just the right degree of laddishness, tinged with just a touch of latent menace, tempered with a sweet naivety and generosity of spirit. The generation gap is
pointed up nicely in dialogue and musical differences with Frank's daughter Paris and son Antwerp. Kara Lily Hayworth as Paris exhibited a lovely singing voice, not least in an early operatic interpretation which showed versatility, range and expertise. Christos Liberos rather underplayed the part of the son - I thought a sharper interpretation of the archetypal cool teenager would have enhanced the production.
As part of the ensemble, and later as Boscombe Chart, the legend of Enfield FC, Simon Lindon was a strong and well defined presence with a punchy style - I would mention a neat comic exchange with Jennifer Yeates early on. I liked also the performance of Andy Thomas as Renato instantly intervening with the excruciating Save Your Love - how did that song get to number one!? - whilst in
a separate guise he essayed a good cameo as a tight lipped football referee.
The sequence in which he sang new lyrics to the melody of Always On My Mind, giving the referee's viewpoint, was a highlight of the evening - very clever, very funny and well written.
As a power mad football club director/club owner, epitomising in manner, outlook and morals all the worst aspects of corporate involvement, Christine Corser gave a well defined performance. When dropping the facade of neo sophistication and control briefly and reverting to a shallow and crude persona, before instant recovery, the instant change in projection was well executed and stylish. Terema Wainwright gave a competent and efficient
performance as the commentator/observer Ulrika Pearce, in addition to singing and dancing finely. As her co-presenter Leigh Stevenson was, I felt, not served as well as he may have been by the slightly confusing ambivalence of his projected character - there may have been subtleties in his irreverent
projection but the effect was not clear or punchy enough.
Cheryl Barrett, deadpan in the ensemble numbers early on, seemed initially underused but came
into her own when the play took on a third dimension-time travel. This afforded
Cheryl a sprightly turn as Nell Cleavage with a quick fire exchange of double entendres - a jolly sequence.
The 1980s music stood up very well and was charmingly delivered with some lively choreography and movement. Credit here to choreographers
Tracey Peacock and Charlotte Bilsby. The singing, however, wavered on a few numbers and could have been more sure footed, especially on Mad World and Time Of My Life - the latter not an easy song to sing! We were charmed however by
the likes of Shot Through The Heart, If I Could Turn Back Time, Echo Beach, and of course the song which lends its title to the name of the play, Stand And Deliver.
The sequence featuring a recurring joke in respect of Carry On films was highly original and very funny! As Musical Director and keyboards man Kevin Bashford gave sterling musical support with his two colleagues. Let me mention from the ensemble Jeff Petar, Matt Hughes, Regan Gumble, whose presence and performance all helped to make this a successful production.
Well done to all!