I was serenaded and handed a croissant as I walked into Bunker Three to watch Music by Hangdog, which set the tone for the performance perfectly. Music is a very silly, but equally entertaining sketch show about a young part-time receptionist/house band member called Dave who works for Stripefy and swallows the music algorithm, becoming the world’s greatest musician as a result. It’s just as insane as it sounds, but strong performances from Jack Toop and Jacob Lovick keep you mostly engaged throughout. Toop plays Dave with an endearing melancholy that allows you sympathise with his quest to become a full-time receptionist (not musician). This more soulful performance contrasts perfectly with Lovick’s manic presence, as he yo-yos between endless characters, accents and impressions. His John Lennon was a particular highlight, but I think his David Bowie could use some work!
There are many clever gags throughout the show. My favourite being when a commenter on Dave’s livestream uses the titles of famous songs to instruct him on how to escape Stripefy’s clutches. Consistent pop-culture references, dramatic voice-overs and even a news-reel style video were used to make the most of this sketch show genre.
Where the show lost me, however, was the convoluted plot. While a sketch show should always have a license to be ridiculous, by the time it was revealed that the algorithm that Dave swallowed was actually a god, I found myself zoning out a little. The performances and constant gags were entertaining enough without endless twists and turns. By the end of the show, I felt these twists were beginning to take away from the overall message; that big corporations and algorithms should never replace individual creativity. As it was, by the time we got to the final monologue about this message, I was just a bit lost. A more streamlined plot may have allowed both the gags and the strong message more room to breathe. Additionally, for a show about music, I felt the soundtrack was slightly lacking. The moments where they did incorporate famous tracks were very effective, such as using the crescendo of A Day in the Life by the Beatles to represent an explosion, but ultimately left me wondering why this wasn’t done more frequently. Although admittedly that could be a copyright issue! That being said, the original song ‘1s and 0s’ has been stuck in my head since I watched it, so the show certainly had strong musical elements.
In the end, your enjoyment of this performance will depend on how much you like off-the-wall silliness. If that’s your style, absolutely go and check it out. If not, I’d maybe give this one a miss.
Reviewer: Ben Pearson
Reviewed: 6th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: