Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
Paul Johnson | 04 Feb 2016 21:05pm
Good Grief! Seeing and reviewing a lot of theatre does mean that one gets to take in a thoroughly diverse and eclectic mix of performances. But after attending this week’s production at New Wimbledon Theatre I’m almost lost for words.
Just when you thought the panto season was over… the most bizarre ‘musical’ (used in the loosest possible term) of the year comes to Greater London in the form of 80s/90s Ibiza rave fest, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life. Written and directed by Jon Conway (co-founder of Qdos Entertainment and creator of 70s musical Boogie Nights) and written specifically for 80s TV legend-turned-UK-panto-star David Hasselhoff, the leafy London suburb of SW19 has been transformed into a pill-popping, ecstasy-driven, house-pumping Club 18-30 holiday mash up.
Warning: If you’re a stickler for theatre etiquette, you might wish to give this week’s show a wide berth. On the other hand, if you’re planning a night out with the girls via the local wine bar then you’re in for a great time. In the penultimate stop of its UK tour before winding up proceedings in Bradford next week, Wimbledon’s regular middle-class audience seems to have been replaced with coach loads of hen-parties. Whooping, screaming, heckling, and actively encouraged to take photos and tweet throughout, Last Night… is nothing short of an adult pantomime.
Rather oddly, once you realise (albeit too late) exactly what it is that you’ve just walked into and after a shoulder-shrugging act of surrender where you’re forced to throw the theatre rule book out of the window, the only thing left is to make the best of it and succumb to the crazy party atmosphere. Take my word for it, that’s the only way you’ll suffer the wafer-thin plot, cheesy gags and twenty-four shoe-horned numbers – not to mention Hasselhoff’s questionable singing (including solos of Barry Manilow’s Even Now and Brian Adams’ Everything I Do… that will haunt me for the rest of my life).
At 64 (and with a slight limp), Hasselhoff just about gets away with using his iconic celebrity status to party with a bunch of kids, although he really looks a little lost in such an energy-filled show as Ross, the Ibiza DJ who traded family life for sun, sea and sex.
Conway calls on his old mates to help out with his new production, such as 80s icon Linda Lusardi taking on costume design, plus co-writer and star of Boogie Nights, Shane Richie loaning his son – Shane Richie Junior – to co-star as Club 18-30 holiday rep, Rik. Actually the latter seems to have inherited his father’s cheeky chappie charisma and natural gift for comic timing and fits in rather well.
Three huge moving video screens provide the perfect backdrop to convey both sun-kissed Spanish beaches and the hypnotic and trance-filled special effects of the club scene. From The Spice Girls to Yazz and The Macarena to Pump Up the Volume, the audience delights in diving back in time to those teenage (-plus) tunes and a time when brick-like mobile phones were just about to make an appearance.
The stand-out performance of the night without a doubt comes from Tam Ryan’s highly entertaining performance as José the club barman. He completely had the audience eating out of his hand on press night, which was just as well when the loudest – and possibly drunkest – audience member in the theatre (in the seat behind me) ran onto the stage in answer to his invitation for a volunteer to assist with his very funny juggling trick. Strong support from Barry Bloxham’s evil drug-pushing Ebenezer adds to the panto atmosphere (receiving plenty of “Boos” from the audience) and also gives the show a chance to include The Shamen’s 1992 smash hit Ebeneezer Goode (“E’s are good, E’s are good” / “Eezer Goode, Eezer Goode”).
Those of you that read our magazine will see an article from Mrs Sardines in the latest issue addressing the growing problem of bad behaviour among today’s theatre audiences – thank goodness she missed this one. But I guess at the end of the day, getting new people into the theatre is arguably always a good thing; we just need them to come back more often… but maybe when The Hoff isn’t in the cast.
- : admin
- : 03/02/2016