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Been So Long
There are just five characters in this musical. The depressed barman Barney (Omar Lyefook) is mostly an observer as he eats his heart out for the lovely Simone (Cat Simmons). Simone and Yvonne (Naana Agyei-Ampadu) are friends but Yvonne in a foul mouthed fantasy yearns for a sexual encounter with a satyr on the top of Kite Hill ". . .he's got furry cleft hooves antlers on his forehead and a great tree branch for a dick." The only white member of the cast is Gil (Harry Hepple), a big time loser whose opening number is about losing his girlfriend to the sexually legendary Raymond. Raymond Le Geune (Arinze Kene) is the homme fatale, drop dead gorgeous"My body is the map of any conceivable female desire." He treats women as pieces of meat; that is until he meets Simone whohas issues with the father of her child leaving her alone to bring up a child with special needs and is not going to be anyone's one night stand.
The music is very accessible, the performances are astoundingly good and the young actors look perfect. However, the dialogue and lyrics are often raunchy and so sexually explicit that you might want to restrict those not yet at the age of consent from seeing it. The downside of showing this slice of ghetto life in a seedy bar (we're told that there are winners' bars and losers' bars) is that the endemic violence seems accepted. The portrayal of stereotypical behaviour makes one wonder if this is kind of negative generalisation the price we pay for edgy realism. When Gil wields a machete and threatens Raymond this may be commonplace on the streets of London but does its portrayal in the theatre make it more or less acceptable? br>
Naana Agyei-Ampadu as Yvonne belts out her numbers wearing a bright yellow dress as short as short can be and with a big bow on her derriere. Her singing voice is strong and ballsy. Cat Simmons as Simone has a sweet but powerful voice. Together their duet "Girls' Night Out" is a strong entrance song.
Che Walker's text and song lyrics seem poetic on the page but in delivery a lot of their strength and lyricism is lost because there is so much else going on. Arthur Darvill's rhythm and blues music hits the right note. This street sassy musical has powerful singing but the romantic, cheesy ending isn't really convincing.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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