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A CurtainUp London Review
Miss Atomic Bomb
Our heroine with a beautiful voice and a Doris Day personality is Candy Johnson (Florence Andrews) who finds that her dead grandmother's caravan is mortgaged up to the hilt. The explanation is that every night her octogenarian granny was drinking and gambling at cards and roulette and getting herself into debt.
Joey Lubowitz (Dean John-Wilson) is an American soldier who deserts when asked to walk into the mushroom cloud set off by the bomb test in the desert. His brother Lou, admirably played by Simon Lipkin, works for a failing hotel in Vegas owned by the New Yorker Jewish Mafia. After the demise of the manager, Lou is asked to find ways to make the hotel profitable and with Joey he comes up with the idea of a beauty contest to crown Miss Atomic Bomb at the Golden Goose in Vegas.
Candy and her best friend Myrna Ranapapadophilou (Catherine Tate) set off for Vegas when they realize there is no future in sheep farming as the fallout from the bomb has killed the sheep. The army's explanation of course is that the sheep have starved to death. Myrna's dream job was to dress mannequins in Doomtown, the mock up town designed to test the effect of irradiation on humans and livestock like piggies. Myrna has agreed to make over country girl Candy for the beauty contest. Meanwhile Joey is escaping the army red caps in full Hassidic outfit and there are the curious machinations of a mad scientist Professor Alvin Schmul (Stephane Anelli).
The plot meanders its zany course. Dean John-Wilson is Joey is to be Aladdin in the West End Disney musical when it opens in May. and Florence Andrews sing and act exceptionally well. Their duet "When Things Get Rough" nails Candy's determined character and introduces Joey's life-long talent for getting out of a scrape by running away.
Laughs are always there and Catherine Tate's comic timing is superb and, when combined with Simon Lipkin's shot in the foot Lou, the result is mayhem. Tate's American accent occasionally lapses into the Antipodean but it all adds to her anarchic character. One of the villains, besides the jokey Mafia and the army General (David Birrell), is the repossessing agent Beverley Potts (Daniel Boys). His refrain of the mortgage account number "59643" is redolent of Les Mis as is the declamatory style of his songs as the banker with low self esteem.
Bill Deamer's dance scenes work. The opening number "Atomic City USA" is punchy and fun. Simon Lipkin, injured by the Mafia, manages to limp and tap dance at the same time. I liked too the Vegas show girls who sing about the tourist attraction of the atomic theme, the mushroom cloud hairdos, the atomic cocktails and views of the blast area fireballs. Dramatic filmed projections show the explosions in full colour.
Miss Atomic Bomb with its satirical humour, tongue in cheek lyrics and accessible tunes is thoroughly enjoyable.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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