Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision

Milton Keynes Theatre
14 July 2008

You can feel the beat!

With more man-made fibre than you could shake a stick at, more cheese than Tescos, an audience in an excited frenzy and some of the most irritatingly catchy tunes you will ever hear, Eurobeat is plainly and simply a “right laugh” from start to finish! It is utter nonsense, but a more brilliant piece of twaddle I haven’t seen in a long time!

Writers Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson have put together a wonderful homage to the love it or hate it institution that is the Eurovision Song Contest. The actual contest itself has now become so ridiculous that it is impossible for anyone to take it seriously, so the time is absolutely right for this glorious spoof!

From wooden hosts with strange caught-in-the-headlights looks in their eyes who make totally unfunny jokes, to glittering costumes, literal dance routines, nonsensical lyrics and predictable tunes, it is camper than Butlins and incorporates everything that we know and love (or hate) about the competition! And what’s the biggest seal of approval this show can have – well it’s all introduced via a special video message by Mr Eurovision himself – Terry Wogan.

Mel Geidroyc and Les Dennis play the hosts for the evening, in the guise of former pole-vaulter Boyka and wig-bearing children's TV host Sergei. And they got douze pwan (sp) from me! With chemistry as glittering as their spangly outfits, they were clearly enjoying themselves as much as we were. Their comedy backgrounds served them both well as they made the non-humorous quips hilarious in their un-funniness with well-timed one-liners and saucy double-entendres.

And what got the biggest cheer of the night? Boyka, while whipping the crowd into a frenzy of cheering said, “imagine you’re watching Britain’s Got Talent and Simon Cowell has just strangled Amanda Holden”! The audience erupted whilst looking fondly at her lovable ex-husband. “Amanda who?” said Les, with perfect timing! What a man? What a legend!

The ten acts they introduced included every Eurovision cliché you could think of and the fire-hazard quota increased with every number as the nylon crackled off the stage! Some of the highlights were Estonia with their scantily clad boy band whose man-kinis left very little to the imagination, the UK’s warbling duet who were not always in perfect harmony, Russia’s Lycra-clad KG Boyz and Germany’s lyric-less electronic dance number.

The audience are a key part of the show in this interactive extravaganza as it really is a competition! Right from the moment you walk in you can feel the excitement building as you are given a badge which shows which country you will be supporting. After that you can buy (at reasonable prices) a flag to wave and clackers to clack to help you cheer your song on, and then when you’ve heard all the songs, you text (at no more than the normal cost of a text) your top three songs to a special number so that the crowd, just like the real thing, actually play a part in who wins the evening!

You really can’t help but get sucked into it all! I am normally the one who sits, arms folded, as everyone around me claps along to the music and gets up and dances at the end. I normally hate that kind of involvement but something overtook me during this show and there I was, clacking my clackers and cheering on Sweden, my chosen country for all I was worth – cheering anything that moved - in fact as it turned out. I honestly don’t know what happened – it just did!

The second half of the show includes the now standard mid-show Eurovision entertainment with Mel Geidroyc inexplicably dressed as a turnip, followed by the results from the juries, who appear on a big screen just like the real thing and seem just as hapless!

The show perfectly captures the sheer madness of this competition as it shows restraint, never taking the lunacy too far. It’s camp and corny with lashings of bonhomie.

It was a huge hit in Edinburgh last year and is now on its way to the West End where it is set to enjoy cult status. Don’t spend time Making Your Mind Up – get a ticket now!

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