7-30 August (ex. 10,17,24) various showings.
Rude, lewd and absolutely fantastic this musical explores the emotion-stricken barflies of London’s Camden Town in the setting of the soulful Arizona bar, on the verge of closure. The play’s language is a mix of urban, cutting cusses and florid Shakespearean style while the musical score blends soul, jazz, reggae and blues.
The collision of these characters is powerful and beautifully rendered; each igniting a repressed aspect of themselves. For “stealing his girl” (who was never actually his), Gil wants to slice up Raymond, the cocksure crooner whose muses include “I’m a tidal wave. I just have to look at a woman…And she gives birth to my child”. Yet after knife twirling and intimidation, the exterior bravados collapse as they fall into each others arms united by the physical torture that is love. Indeed love is the great theme of the play with all the characters briefly sanctified by it. Even Simone, hardened by her past, feels “anointed”.
This may all sound a bit intense, so cue the dazzlingly shameless, but somehow enchanting, sex craven Yvonne who will “smack you in the mouth with one of my tits” and tell you her feral Kite Hill fantasies, to take the edge off.
The character of Gil too is refreshing and deeply entertaining. Arriving on stage with a swagger, a shell suit and murder on his mind, the last thing one expects to come out of the mouth of this self proclaimed “shark that breaths” is the tremulous and deeply affecting song “Been Too Long”. Screw Raymond LeGendre and his chiseled torso, the women in the audience were melting in the midst of this “bony malnourished fractured psychopathic man child”.
Barney, the soulful bartender, offers another dimension to this production. Often in the sidelines, he brings gentleness and slightly morose edge, balancing the otherwise flashy and gregarious characters.
The cast is a stellar one, all with voices and charisma that wooed the audience and left them desperate for an encore. This ETT production was slick, witty and moving. All in all a definite must see.