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Barbershopera: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Alex Mason

This musical theatre extravaganza provides an hour of enchanting songs and great laughs as it parodies the French classic.

All four of the cast play several roles, sometimes in the same scene, with Lara Stubbs masterfully playing both the protagonist D'Artagnan and antagonist Cardinal Richlea – one of a wealth of silly pun.

The songs are excellent, with hilarious innuendo-laden lyrics and a wealth of sight gags and juxtapositions. This is fun of the highest order, and if the jokes aren't hitting home, the choreographed dance numbers are certain to keep the audience enchanted.

Characters are differentiated mainly by wigs, which works surprisingly well thanks to some great acting. Rob Castell deserves special mention for managing to adeptly jump between the burly Athos and the exceedingly camp Duke of Buckingham at a whim.

The storyline is equally silly, with the musketeers sent to retrieve the king's missing gold plums, gifted to the camp Duke with whom he is having an affair. England and France are having a major trade dispute over English puddings, which provides the perfect excuse for a plethora of dessert-based gags. There's also a hilarious device with the English speaking sections being performed either in French or with a French accent.

The singing is of a high standard, though Stubbs struggles to fully project to the whole audience during the solos. Four is also insufficient a cast to truly pull off the play, and although their attempts are valiant it does sometimes feel like another couple of actors would have improved things.

The show is a fantastic romp, but wraps itself up in far too short a time. It ends with a speech from King Louis that's almost stand-up in nature, listing the benefits of a democratic society while satirising the failings of the coalition government and modern politics.

Ending aside, this is an action packed hour  that might not have the laugh count of a top tier standup performance, but more than makes up for it with sheer entertainment value.

Review date: 27 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Alex Mason
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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