One thing the Great British Bake Off has proved is that as a nation, we have a deep, if surprising love for watching a group of people competing against each other through the medium of cake, biscuits and all things baked. Now we are in height of BBC Bake off season, it’s timely that Durham University Light Opera Group present this production of The Bakewell Bake Off: A New Musical with songs, dance and plenty of innuendos thrown in.
This show is not quite a parody, but more a tribute to the competitive baking genre. We’re here at the annual baking competition in the small village of Bakewell, and whole host of wannabe baking champions are presenting their signature bakes for the big title. The glorious competitiveness and gossip of small town Britain is on full show here. We meet all sorts of characters – a puppy eyed postman, a German transsexual trying to fit in, Sister Mary with her ‘coconut angel’ cake, a frantically friendly host and her docile sidekick.
Also thrown into the cake batter mix are three competitive judges – one stern, one smug, one simperingly nice, they are all vying to claim credit for the ultimate Bakewell delicacy. You have to admit they pose and important question – should a Bakewell tart have almonds, glace cherries or actually be a pudding?
This show is a real mixed bag. An exasperated Doctor dealing with casual small town racism, for example, hits the nail on the head with a delightfully dry and cynical performance, and I chuckled at the strutting, high heeled man hunter labelled bakewell ‘tart’. However, much of the time this show errs on the hammy side of pantomime, and the large number of characters and story strands feels chaotic.
It may not be anything revolutionary, but with some rousing songs, and a nice injection of audience participation, The Bakewell Bake Off: A New Musical is a decent bit of easy going fun.
The Bakewell Bake Off is playing at C Venue (Venue 34) from 20-22 August as part of the Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Festival website.