Bananaman – theatre review

Guest review by Torin Douglas

Bananaman – theatre review 9 January 2018

“The perfect way to chase away the January blues” – Theatre Weekly.

“Strong scores fill every inch of this miraculously feel-good show” – Metro

“Absolutely chocka with zing and zap… with some spot-on songs and some very funny running jokes” – The Times

 

No, not Hamilton, but Bananaman, The Musical, which you can still catch at the Southwark Playhouse till January 20th, for adults and children alike. It’s based on a 1980s comic strip, which became a hit TV series voiced by The Goodies, about a boy called Eric Wimp who only has to eat a banana to become a lantern-jawed (but dim) superhero. The words and music are by Leon Parris.

I went to its premiere last week and the terrific cast got a deserved standing ovation. It’s a joyful evening – and it’s ‘absolutely chocka’ with Chiswick creatives.

The director is Mark Perry of the Tabard Theatre in Bath Road, who under his acting name of Fred Perry starred in Tryst just before Christmas. The choreographer is Grant Murphy from Arts Ed, further along Bath Road. Bananaman himself (in a costume that almost steals the show) is Matthew McKenna (“a joy” – Financial Times) who trained at Arts Ed, as did three of the other cast members, Lizzii Hills, Carl Mullaney and Amy Perry.

The co-producer is another local, Denise Silvey of Cahoots Theatre Company and one of the backers is Bob and Co, a cultural investment company with strong Chiswick connections. It all testifies to this area’s growing reputation as a creative hub.

As the reviews acknowledge, the show still needs some work but, as Time Out says, “it’s a lot of fun and its energy, exuberance and flashes of genuine humour carry you along.”

The Stage critic sums it up well: “Mark Perry’s production is really joyful, really funny and impressively polished, with a couple of great numbers standing out… With a bit of judicious peeling and chopping, it could be a really strong new British musical.”

Book tickets at Southwark Playhouse