Topping and Butch: Take It Up The Octave

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

An indisputable contender for campest show on the Fringe, Take It Up The Octave features musclebound singer Andrew 'Butch' Simmons and his rather less toned keyboard-playing sidekick Michael Topping.

Dressed arrestingly in studded-leather bondage gear, the two perform a partly-topical and gloriously gay mini-musical, parodying the cheesiest songs in pop and cabaret.

There are a few gems, including Never Mind, a gay news bulletin trivialising such significant events as Britney losing her cherry to Justin Timberlake. And after innocently asking several straight women in the audience if they have gay male friends, the duo sing Fag Hag in their honour, to the tune of Downtown (while desperately trying to drown out the original backing vocals on the karaoke track).

There are an equal number of lulls - a few of the original songs (including Nine To Five and On Mother Kelly's Doorstep) seem unknown to the younger members of the audience, while lyrically weak parodies include the Steps take-off Worst Shag of my Life. However, the pair are confident and professional enough to retain the audience's goodwill throughout, while their singing is entertaining even when unamusing.

Few of the song lyrics put an original spin on either news stories or life within the gay scene, but for a light-hearted, feelgood evening full of innuendo, mischief and smut, you could do worse than Take It Up The Octave.

Review date: 1 Aug 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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