AND THEY PLAYED SHANG A LANG

‘And They Played Shang A Lang’ ended my run of good productions by a very long mile! By far and away the worst thing I have seen this year its banality was not really enhanced by its late night slot and the fact the venue was less than a quarter full. I tried to enjoy myself and force myself into liking it- honest!- but it just wasn’t happening and the less I tried to cringe the more I felt the need to.
On first inspection the idea of drawing events of seventies Edinburgh together with a narrative driven with some of the best music of the era-as well as some of its most turgid- seemed like an entertaining idea. I am just unsure how a ramshackle production such as this made it to the Assembly Rooms whilst shows which probably have a fraction of its budget but twenty times its professionalism and innovation languish in tiny theatres or even on the Free Fringe.
It seemed like every random idea had been thrown at this show in trying to create something out of the flimsiest of premises. Therefore as a means of covering all bases the musical interludes include ‘Block Buster’, ‘Waterloo’, ‘Shang A Lang’, ‘Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ and –God help us- even ‘Anarchy in the UK’.
Just when I thought the show had reached its nadir and things could only improve- a Nativity scene which was more tortuous than the real thing- a moment of sentimentality was tracked with the turgidity of a drawn out version of that pile of steaming shit, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. No edited highlights were offered up as a salvation for this particular lowlight. Oh no, a full length drawn out unedited version was served up lacking even the emotional void the original tried to cover up with bombastic excess and florid musicianship.
I felt sorry for the cast who I felt did not understand the material they were working with but I sense they realised it was not going to be their finest hour so in turn responded with performances which resembled a non stop infant stomping party. At times I wondered whether I was merely witnessing a series of tantrums held together by musical interludes.
Definitely not a show I would recommend to anyone I like-even those I don’t particularly care for merit more than this it must be said- it certainly has been the worst show I have seen so far this year.
**

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