Fashion Victim: The Musical is puerile, vacuous and tacky. The plot is wafer thin and there is no discernible meaning or message to speak of. The characters are two-dimensional and the script appears stolen from Heat magazine’s cutting room floor. Yet it is because of all this, not despite it, that Fashion Victim works. It is a lot of fun, and well aware that the Oliviers are not going to come knocking any time soon. This gives it the freedom to be as bawdy, crass and clichéd as writer Toby Rose clearly wants to be, and is all the richer for it.
The plot (for want of a better word) is as follows: Mimi Steele is on a mission to become London’s next big thing, and will utilise all of her, er, steely, resolve to ensure that this happens. She makes sure she is snapped and papped as one half of a power couple alongside smouldering Parisian supermodel Cedric Chevalier, before moving on to reality TV heartthrob Tarquin Brockhutch. But don’t worry boys and girls, she’ll soon get her comeuppance etcetera etcetera. You get the rest. Oh, and there’s a cameo from model and actor Camilla Rutherford for some reason. My hunch is that the director is calling in a favour.
Fashion Victim borders on delirious levels of high-camp, enough to make Sink the Pink feel mundanely heteronormative by comparison. There is enough dry ice here to flood the set of Stars in their Eyes, and Ryan Jenkins’ choreography is suitably OTT. Factor in also Carl Mullaney’s turn as the Emcee, who clomps about the stage in his Lycra and neon-pink eye makeup, pursing his lips and rolling his eyes. Joyous. I don’t wish to sound flippant here; Mullaney does all this with witty aplomb, and, incidentally, has an impressive set of lungs on him.
Alongside Mullaney, director Rob McWhir has assembled one of the most attractive casts you’ll be likely to find in a low-budget, off-West End musical. It may be shallow to comment on James Wilkinson and Arron Blake’s appearances, who are perfectly chiselled and/or stubbled, but I feel it would discredit the production if I didn’t. Mention also to the FVTM! dance troupe. Being leads in a piece lacking story or gravitas may be difficult, but Wilkinson as Cedric and Rosie Glossop as Mimi do nobly.
Does Fashion Victim get a little tiresome at points? Yes. Some lines are so blindingly obvious we might as well have been given bingo cards to mark off which pop culture reference would be next. ’50 shades of too much information’ (insert sass here) springs to mind.
Don’t go to Fashion Victim expecting Pinter-esque philosophy or Shakespearian soliloquies. Have a drink first, then just let this raucous, catty, enjoyable mush wash over you. Every so often, this kind of stuff really does the trick.
Fashion Victim: The Musical is playing at the Cinema Museum until 5 July. For more information and tickets, see the Cinema Museum website.