MUSICAL REVIEW: Bad Girls The Musical ★★★

Bad Girls The Musical
The Barn Theatre, Cirencester
Thursday 27th June 2019

Set in the fictional prison HMP Larkhall, giving inspiration for the hit ITV crime drama, Bad Girls the Musical centres around the inmates and officers affairs, both professional and personal, in this amaeutur production which, unlike any personally seen before, uses the form of multimedia, which in this case is being used from the original stage production to tell the story, and in most parts works efficiently.

Producing striking images throughout, especially with a prison door as it’s centerpiece, there are many moments in this which stand out, from the opening scene with a back turned Rachel Hicks (Amy Westwood) partially naked with only her bottom halved underwear on show, through to more tender and intimate moments within the inmate’s cells which in terms of set involves only a metal framed bed to enhance the atmosphere. Times set in the cafeteria are at times somewhat seems crowded with characters and clash of colours, with many background actors taking the attention for all the wrong reasons, with a lack of empathy and commitment in ensemble moments, on top of mainly taking the attention away from the main strong cast, led artfully Carrie Jo Good as Shell Dockley, who particularly gives a rousing performance which you appreciate more personally for having known she lost her voice earlier that morning before opening night.

James Canning’s menacing portrayal of Jim Fenner, an officer abusing his power, gives a performance which you as the audience relish at, with his presence on stage making the hairs stand on the back of your neck and toes curl in hatred and frustration. Amy Soeight and Lisa Aust as Julie Johnston and Julie Saunders steal the whole show with their witty, and genuine chemistry which oozes on stage, with songs ‘Life of Grime’ and ‘All Banged Up’ receiving the biggest reaction from the audience and stands out for being the most memorable and well choreographed, which in all is something trio Kate Northott, Rachel Wright, and Paul De Boer should be commemorated for, especially in the ensemble numbers, whilst solo performances are almost restricted to the bed centerpiece within the setting of their individual cells.

The same praise could not be said from the technical aspect from this performance, which sees the background projection unable to keep a tight fitting as we watch it seep into the wings, whilst dramatic moments on stage are not lit sufficiently, and are somewhat delayed, especially when ensemble numbers are being presented. A moment involving Hicks and Fenner at the end of Act One is completely overshadowed in darkness due to an overhanging set piece of lighting, which is unfair considering the hard work and commitment which is being presented on stage.

Overall, TinkCo’s take on Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus’ musical in the most part is led by an exceptional talent strong character cast, with a captivating singing and acting ability, but is sadly let down due to it’s background inmates and technical team who criminally at times pull away from what should be an enjoyable night out at the theatre.

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