Mitch Benn and The Distractions

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

As far as musical parodies go, you can't get much better than Mitch Benn.

He belts though a raft of spot-on spoofs in the first medley alone, using the fad for interactive entertainment as an excuse for a stylistically varied selection.

It's a perfect showcase for Benn's versatile talents, and those of the two stunning women who accompany him on drum (Tash Bayliss) and bass (Kirsty Newton). The Distractions is certainly no misnomer.

As pastiche, it's spot on - musically clever and sparkling with inventive little twists - but from a pure comedy perspective, the lyrics simply aren't that funny. There's the odd couplet that hits home, but generally the jokes cannot sustain the three and a half minutes a pop song demands.

Benn's between-song banter is better, setting up the gags with some concise, assured stand-up - but it means the ensuing tracks have a tendency to do little more than reiterate the same thoughts.

Sometimes, too, words are lost - either through poor acoustics, bad diction or a combination of the two - which doesn't help the louder numbers.

The best tracks combine styles, dropping a country twang to Deutschland Uber Alles, for example, to back the revelation that Hitler was obsessed with Hollywood westerns.

And the Shakespearean rap My Name Is... Macbeth is possibly the best comic song you'll hear all year. Though based on a very simple premise, it is perfectly executed - much to Benn's chagrin, as it's the element of the show displaying the least musical virtuousity.

Whatever else, the show is a barnstorming hour of pure entertainment, and fans of this genre probably won't find a better example on the Fringe. If only the lyrics were as impressive as the music, this would be unbeatable by any yardstick.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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