Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Five Guys Named Moe

Festival Square Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

Looking for a real good time this Christmas? Then stroll on down to the magnificently named Funky Butt Club, the speakeasy dive that the quintet who give Clarke Peters' irresistibly infectious piece of musical theatre its name, and chase those winter blues away. Paulette Randall's revival of Peters' 1990 west end hit has taken over the purpose-built Festival Square Theatre as part of Underbelly's Edinburgh's Christmas season. With much of the action taking place on a revolving circular floor housed within the temporary construction's expansive in-the-round interior, the audience watch from cabaret tables within the circle, as the show's firecracker cast jump between the two spaces.

Here we meet Nomax, a down-at-heel big lug wallowing in self-pity after being dumped with good reason by his true love Lorraine. With a bottle in front of him and Louis Jordan playing on the radio, Nomax is in the thick of the ultimate break-up indulgence, until five dazzlingly dressed fairy godfathers all named Moe step out of nowhere to get him back on track.

This loose-knit narrative is the perfect excuse for more than twenty slices of classic Jordan, sung by the cast backed by a rollicking six-piece band. Given that Jordan at his peak was known as King of the Jukebox, his array of earthily inclined comic musical sketches were always a show in waiting. Sired in part on the back of the 1980s vogue for retro-cool jazz dance, Peters' life-affirming concoction resembles A Christmas Carol in zoot suits, and even after a quarter of a century is still singing, swinging and making merry like Christmas for all it's worth.

The Herald, November 30th 2016

ends

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