Tuesday, July 23

Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!! – Southwark Playhouse

If you’re craving a delightfully exciting blend of retro charm and laugh-out-loud comedy, look no further than ‘Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!!’ which is currently dazzling audiences at Southwark Playhouse (Borough). Directed by Mark Bell, the genius behind ‘The Play That Goes Wrong,’ this brand-new musical offers a riotous escape to a sun-soaked beach brimming with beach competitions, vibrant characters, and musical nostalgia.

The story unfolds on a picturesque sunny, summers day during the famed ‘Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp’ competition, where participants vie for the prestigious titles of King “or” Queen of the Beach. As expected, romance and rivalry intermingle amid a series of increasingly absurd and entertaining challenges. The show cleverly satirizes the conventional jukebox musical, infusing it with a darkly comedic twist reminiscent of ‘Squid Game.’ The resulting concoction is as entertaining as it is unpredictable.

Emily Bestow’s set design is simple, but a visual treat, transforming the intimate Southwark Playhouse into a retro beach paradise. The backdrop, awash with bright colors and nostalgic motifs, perfectly complements the energetic performances. The costumes, also by Bestow are bursting with sass and flair, amplify the show’s playful spirit, while the dynamic choreography leaves the audience in awe of the cast’s versatility.

Photo: Danny Kaan

Brandon Lambert’s musical composition is nothing short of brilliant. The score, inspired by iconic 20th-century hits, strike a perfect balance between parody and homage. The clever, witty lyrics gradually peel back the layers of seemingly shallow characters, revealing their deeper emotions and motivations. The standout number, ‘Taking the Mickey,’ humorously nods to Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ and exemplifies the show’s knack for blending comedy with heartfelt moments.

The humour in ‘Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!!’ is akin to classic American movies like ‘Grease,’ ‘American Pie,’ and ‘Dirty Dancing.’ It blends the nostalgic charm of the ’50s with the irreverent and often outrageous humour of the late ’90s and early 00s, creating a unique comedic experience that appeals to a wide range of audiences.

The cast is a powerhouse of talent, delivering stellar performances in both singing and comedy. Janice Landry shines as the endearingly naïve Chastity, while Jack Whittle exudes charisma as the laid-back Dude. Tom Babbage’s portrayal of the nerdy Joe is delightful, especially as he falls for Ellie Clayton’s Mary-Joe, who evolves from a shy wallflower to a confident, vocal powerhouse. Katie Oxman commands the stage as Chickie, the ambitious matriarch, with Damien James providing a smooth, and charming counterpoint as Dickie. Bradley Adams and Dixie Newman add an extra dose of energy and fun, punctuating the musical numbers with their spirited entrances and exits.

‘Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!!’ pacing is impeccable, masterfully balancing character development with the excitement of the competition. The engaging music and charismatic performances keep the audience invested and entertained from the first scene to the grand finale. One of it’s most charming aspects is its self-awareness. It embraces and exaggerates the clichés of traditional musicals, creating a familiarity that’s both endearing and humorous. It maintains a wonderful sense of humour throughout. The jokes and gags, including some delightfully quirky bird noises, add layers of hilarity that keep the audience engaged and laughing from start to finish. The show’s descent into absurdity is thoroughly enjoyable, offering an entertaining escape from the mundane. Highly recommended!!

‘Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!!’ runs Southwark Playhouse (Borough) until 22nd June 2024 Tickets are available at: https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/productions/fun-at-the-beach-romp-bomp-a-lomp

Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin

Reviewed: 30th May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.