I’m sure I’m not alone in cringing at the TV when women’s sanitary products are advertised using over the top scenarios – so imagine then, the cringing involved when watching a musical about a tampon. Yes, you heard me correctly.
The Last Ever Musical’s storyline is hardly a new premise: a musical about a musical – although this one seems to sink to new lows as small-time theatre producer Brian Wilts has to bring together a team to create a commissioned show for The Femlette Feminine Hygiene Corporation.
He brings together characters Roxand Smarts, a camp-as-Christmas composer whose flamboyance is ploughed into songs such as ‘When the tampons come to town’ (yes, really); Lovelace Lewis, a hippy director with a hidden secret; and Marlene Haggis, a casting director who clings to her previous performer lifestyle. He also battles with Harriet Pie, a lesbian feminist who was commissioned to write a play and has very strong opinions on the idea of a musical.
Simon James Collier and the Okai Collier Company have produced the show, which according to the programme notes was devised because of feeling oppressed by the “high tide of cheap gimmickry among new musicals”, but the entire show here feels like a gimmick itself. There are small flashes of genius, in auditioning talent for the show, several send ups of Jason Robert Brown and Scott Alan are on point, although several jibes at reviewers are so dangerously close to the wire that I fear many may feel slightly offended.
The choreography by Omar Okai is compact but contains subtle nods to Gillian Lynne as well as Fosse, but it is set to a score that seems so hybrid in styles that no clear melody can ever be determined. If I’m not making a great impression so far, let me point out that the evening comes to a particular low when Brian (Jonathan Barnes) caresses a tampon singing “You fill a hole inside me”.
The cast give it their best despite the nonsensical, mismatched story. Emma Kurij and Jeroen Robben’s voices in particular try to soar above the drivel, but I fear nothing can save this show. I found myself cringing and squirming and, even with the short running time of two hours, it still it felt too long. Its subject matter is nonsense, the jokes fall flat and the music will never become something you can sing along to. I fear even if it was indeed the last ever musical, I still wouldn’t pay for another ticket to watch it.
The Last Ever Musical is playing The White Bear Theatre until 7 September 2013. For more information see the Last Ever Musical website.