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A CurtainUp London London Review
Eurobeat - Almost Eurovision

by Lorri Currie

There's not enough silliness in the world. Eurovision helps to keep it balanced— Sir Terry Wogan, Eurovision comentator

Help! — Upomic!  
I’ve been injured — Povrijedio sam se 
Do you have a toilet? — Da li imate je WC? 
I need asprin— Treba me lijek za boi 
How much is this turnip? — koliko je ovo repa?
— Useful phrases in Sarajevo
Eurobeat - Almost Eurovision
The KG Boyz from Russia
(Photo: Robert Day)
As Lorri Currie says, you don't have to be a Eurovision fan to enjoy the new West End show Eurobeat, but I felt a review would be best written by an avowed expert on things Eurovision. Below is her take on this witty spoof on the annual song contest where songs are submitted and voted on by countries throughout Europe.—Lizzie Loveridge
"It’s a winner" says The Times and how right they are. Eurobeat -Almost Eurovision, the top-selling show at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, must not be missed if you are looking for light hearted, amusing entertainment. You do not have to be a Eurovision fan to appreciate this take on Europe’s most popular song contest - you just need a pocket full of tissues to wipe away the tears of laughter, a clacker to make as much noise as possible in support of your adopted country and a flag to wave with great exuberance to encourage the contest entrants, who actually, don’t need a lot of encouraging anyway! Audience members will be allocated country allegiance to one of the ten on arriving at the theatre and encouraged to vote for the eventual winner by text using their mobile phone.

Les Dennis of Family Fortunes fame and Mel Giedroyc (half of double act Mel and Sue) our "hosts for the evening" are truly hilarious in their roles of Sergei and Boyka, introducing us to the best that Europe has to offer in music, dance and song. Unlike many Eurovision hosts they work well together, complementing each other with quick wit, ad-libs and audience encouragement.

The stage is set in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina where an entourage of contest hopefuls compete for the audience text vote, ensuring that each night the end result is truly a surprise. Ten countries are represented, all giving side-splitting performances with more than a hint of cheese, camp, imitation and innuendo — let’s be honest, what else would you expect!

Italy’s Vesuvia Versace opens the contest with a song consisting of opera, rap and twist. Then comes Tomas Jerker and the Hard Pole dancers from Poland, attired in suits and briefcases. They parade around the stage, all muscles and sexuality and complete their performance by stripping down to gymnastic shorts and vests to the delight of all! Iceland’s – Gert Grollmersdetter, is a cross between Bjork and Silvia Knight, the Icelandic entry in the real 2006 contest, and from the UK, duo Rayne and Sheiner, give what could possibly be described as one of the best UK performances in over a decade –a top-notch rendition of love and cheese.

The KG Boyz representing Russia are a well-toned, attractive group of lads, described by our host Sergei, as the New Kids on the Eastern Bloc and entertain the audience with their tight harmonies and equally tight costumes! Hungary are represented by The Molnar Sisters, folk singers with braided hair and colourful costumes and ribbons, singing a lovely little ditty entitled "Little Bird" – cute or what? Ireland, seven times winner in the "real thing", send Ronon Corr, a leprechaun equivalent, crooning a beautiful melodic tune with easy to remember lyrics – "La, la, la, la, la . . . .la, la, la, . . . la, la, . . .". I cracked up when half way through, he shouts to the audience, "Join in if you know the words!" Next we have Greece, a bespectacled, kaftan-clad mimic on Nana Mouskouri, who carries out the "Eurovision Reveal" and turns into a silver, shimmery, sex-goddess with an incredible talent for pole dancing! Germany . . . . well, not a lot to comment on their entrant Nepotism, described as a post industrial, post post modernist trio, no lyrics, no dancing, just well . . . I can’t find the words. The final act from Sweden are Alva, who bear just a slight resemblance to that well-known Swedish winning act of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton.

Even the interval act cannot be faulted with hostess Boyka, an ex-Olympic pole vaulter and cabaret artiste, dressed as a turnip (yes, I did say a turnip!), who gets the cast and audience wound up into a frenzy of excitement and anticipation of the final result, which on the night I attended was . . . Russia!

I cannot recommend highly enough this extravaganza of fun and gloriously comical homage to Eurovision live on stage.  Be there or be square!

Eurobeat - Almost Eurovision
Devisor and Co-writer: Craig Christie
Co-writer: Andrew Patterson
Directed by Glynn Nicholas

Starring: Les Dennis, Mel Giedroyc
With: Sarah Boulton, Emma Brooke, Sarah Cahalarn, Emma Cannon, Adam Charles-Hills, Mairi Cowieson, Svcott Garnham, Lewis Griffiths, Natasha Jayetileke, Arvid Larsen, Kay Murphy, Craig Perry, Serhio Priftis, Carl Stallwood
Set and Costume Design: Richard Jeziorny
Choreography: Andrew Hallsworth and Natalie Marsland
Lighting: Trudy Dalgleish
Running time: Two hours 20 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 0844 482 5170
Booking to 15th November 2008
Reviewed by Lorri Currie based on 11th September 2008 performance at The Novello Theatre, Aldwych, London WC2 (Rail/Tube: Charing Cross)
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