After reading rave reviews for Beach Comets Vampire Hospital Waiting Room, I expected great things from their second B-musical – Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair, which also swept up praise at Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year. I was not disappointed. Set on (you guessed it) a cruise ship, it tells the story of Captain Bleufonde (Joe McArdle) and his crew, as they sail into the apocalypse to find his long lost love Mandy, who was thrown overboard 20 years ago. What ensues is a story of unrequited love, longing and living each day to its fullest, featuring twists and turns throughout. It comes complete with a Nun (Imogen Brabant), Hanks Leeroy (Craig Methvent) – an overly enthusiastic cruise rep with an indistinguishable accent – two randy OAP’s and a live band. It is utterly ridiculous, but in the best, most hilarious way.
McArdle steals the show as Bleufonde, with a second questionable accent and sporadic sexually charged facial expressions. Delusional, presumably from drinking far too much sea-water, his lust for long dead lover Mandy drives the show, and drives the ship into the apocalypse in his quest to resurrect her. Will Hearle is brilliantly funny as Bleufonde’s first mate and not-so-secret admirer Fittles, who pirouettes on and off stage at the Captains beck and call. Methven is equally entertaining as Hanks Leeroy, the cruise rep who falls in love with a Nun, and proceeds to dedicate a song to the small bit of her body he can actually see under her robes, aptly named ‘Six Inches of Face’. Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair is packed with musical numbers that make you giggle, along with filthy jokes and plenty of puns.
Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair may be a relentless stream of innuendo after innuendo, but that is what makes it brilliant. For an hour the cast of six and the band plough through the never-ending laughs, delivering punch line after punch line at an incredible frantic pace whilst never missing a beat. The live band keep the energy of the show up, while the music and lyrics are fun and catchy, and performed fantastically by the cast. It seems to have a low production value and cheap props and costumes, but this really doesn’t matter when the material is original and genuinely funny, and even adds to the humour in most instances. Despite being set during the end of the world, Theo McCabe and Steve Duffy have delivered a piece that is daft as a brush but bloody great fun, which I think we could all use a lot more of.
Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair is playing at Arts Theatre until October 29.
Photo: David Monteith-Hodge