Do you fancy a night down the local? Choir of Man takes the audience to their local pub, not one of those swanky, shiny wine-bars, but the sticky-floored boozer where you meet friends and put the world to rights over a pint. Only, in this pub, The Jungle, the patrons sing, dance, narrate, play music and are not afraid to talk about emotions and community and yes even cry. There’s not so much a through-story as a series of snapshots as the different characters from the talented group of nine performers have their moment in the spotlight in between the superb ensemble numbers. Ben Norris acts as MC for the evening with his eloquent poetic monologues, pulling the whole together. There’s an eclectic mixture of re-orchestrated songs from artists like Adele, Sia and Avicii. And there are perfectly pitched quiet moments, a capella numbers, alongside the full-on testosterone-fuelled dance numbers, a superb tap number and lots and lots of beer. The nine crazy-talented cast swap instruments, sing solo and in beautifully harmonised choral pieces, all backed by an excellent four-piece band perched high up on a mezzanine at the back of the set. The set itself, the Jungle pub, is warm and welcoming with a fully functional bar.
This may all sound fun and frivolous and joyous but there’s also an underlying message of the vital need, especially in these turbulent times, when mental health issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the current economic situation, for people to come together and just talk over a pint (or an orange juice).
After debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay’s creation has become an international hit, going on to successful runs in the US and Australia and garnering an Olivier Award nomination. This is a perfectly choreographed performance while not feeling at all choreographed. It’s just a group of guys who happen to turn up to the pub for the evening with the performance developing depending on who is there. Then the audience pops in as well and is warmly welcomed into that community. It’s joyous, uplifting, full of heart and bursting with talent. You go in for a show and leave feeling that you have been at a party with friends. A glorious night out.
Choir of Man is at the Arts Theatre until 5th February 2023. Tickets are on sale now from www.artstheatrewestend.co.uk
Reviewer: Carole Gordon
Reviewed: 13th October 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★