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Blues In The Night: Kiln Theatre

October 30, 2019

(seen at the evening performance on 20th August 2019)

This summer, it appears that the Kiln Theatre has been running a “summer camp” for the cream of West End musical theatre talent to have fun, relax and enjoy themselves in front of an audience.

Sharon D Clarke (The Lady), Debbie Kurup (The Woman), Clive Rowe (The Man) and Gemma Sutton (The Girl) work their way through 27 blues numbers in an evening originally created by Sheldon Epps.

The impressive Robert Jones set is a lounge and three bedrooms in a run-down hotel. “Oscar and the Strollers” are the on-stage band, while in each room the ladies take stock of their lives past, present and future, while The Man cruises the lobby in search of whatever he can find.

The singing really is the best, and each character gets at least one solo chance to shine. Sharon D Clarke brings the house down with “Wasted Life Blues,” Clive Rowe has “I’m Just A Lucky So-And-So” just for starters.

Trouble is, there’s nothing to hang the evening on, really. It’s pretty much not only plot-less but repetitive plot-lessness. You have to be a very hard-core fan of old-time blues to distinguish between some of the numbers at times, and it all becomes overwhelmingly soporific if you can’t. The first couple of times you hear how hard life is, you sympathise. After a while, it all just blurs and even the wonderful voices become a bit of a drone.

There’s the odd humorous line – the bleakest about how older black actors can’t get work from the booking agents – and if you think a trumpet going “wa-wa-wa” is funny then that’s hilarious too.

Truth is, it’s a fantastic team and a wonderful set with talented musicians and songs which are classics of the genre. If those songs are not to your taste – as they really weren’t to the monkey, then even a two hour evening feels far longer. Five stars to the four singing stars and the Kiln for staging it, but for this monkey…

3 stars.


And that rounds up the “summer” reviews. Taking a blog break for 2 weeks, back on 20th November 2019.

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