Blink again but don’t miss it: Above the Stag celebrate another series of flops

Review of ‘Blink Again! Turn on lights’ Above the Stag 12th June, 2011

Having recently seen Jack Rosenthal’s ‘Smash’ at the Menier, where the process of unwittingly creating a theatrical flop is hilariously laid bare, we know that there is plenty of entertainment to be had from other people’s misery, especially when it comes to the theatre.

With their third outing of the ‘Blink’ franchise, Tim McArthur and Peter Bull have hit on a winning formula.  Like two theatrical nursemaids, they have tenderly gone to the rescue of more of  those babies that got thrown out with the bath water of commercial disaster.

This a show for the would-be aficionado, a bluffers’ guide to musical theatre that will enable you to pronounce confidently on the merits of ‘You’ll be in my heart’ (Disney’s Tarzan), or the shortcomings of ‘Saucy Jack and Space Vixens’, without fear of contradiction.  Each song is accompanied by a brief synopsis and show dates (just in case you were on a minibreak when ‘Oscar’ opened and closed on the same night at the Shaw theatre).

One minute we are wondering how musicals with such great songs failed to get an audience, the next we are wondering ‘what were they thinking putting this on?’.  Part of the appeal of the show is that in between the micky-taking, there are genuinely sincere renditions of some little known gems.  With such a huge range of songs and styles, it would be asking a lot of a cast of seven to make each performance outstanding, however, everyone has their moments and the ensemble singing and dancing keeps us engaged throughout.   We particularly enjoyed Peter Navickas singing ‘If It’s Only Love’ from Metropolis (we were there the first time round), Millie Dunne’s ‘We Stumble Along’ (Drowsy Chaperone), and Jamie Lee’s ‘I want to go to Hollywood’ (Grand Hotel).  Paul Brangan and Peter Navickas gave a rousing rendition of ‘Lillies Eyes’, a song we only knew previously from Phillip Quast’s youtube back catalogue.

Understandably, many of the flops mentioned are not recent, however, there are two notable exceptions.  With the subtitle ‘Turn on the Lights’ you can probably guess one of them.  The other was ‘Umbrellas of Cherbourg’, which we saw and enjoyed, partly for its self-mocking humour.  But why go to the trouble of mocking yourself when others can do it for you.  We thought the original sailors were lackadaisical, but ‘Blink’ take it to a whole new level, with a hilarious twist on the ending.

One of the pleasures of these productions is that there will always be new material.  We look forward to the next instalment – perhaps they can call it ‘Blink 4 – turn off the Lord‘.

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