Pros: Tice Oakland as the ‘one man’ in this one-man musical showcases his impressive talents.
Cons: Some of the material seems shoe-horned into the piece for the sake of a laugh. The all singing concept makes it difficult to understand important plot points at times.
There is nowhere to hide in a solo musical. Requiring a true triple threat, one bum note, two left feet or a lack of thespian flare would quickly endanger the success rate of such an endeavour. While Tice Oakfield as our one-man song, dance and story band does offer the full package, his efforts are not quite strong enough to sustain a one and a half hour musical on his own.
A comedy in two parts, the show begins in Surrey with musical detective James Holland searching for an explosive guinea pig, whose evil creator he falls in love with. Cut to the second act and James ends up in Mexico, tied up and left for dead in the dessert, while on a new job looking for a prize rooster stolen for use in illegal cock fights. There is just enough sense in the storyline to forgive these outrageously ridiculous plot twists. The second half in particular however, gives the impression of having been cobbled together from sketches that might have worked well on their own but have been wedged, rather tentatively, into the full length piece.
While singing an entire full-length musical completely on your own should probably be commended, the style is predominantly similar to singing to yourself in the bathroom: a self-indulgent experiment with your voice and ability. Oakfield clearly has an excellent voice, ample musical talent and a strong stage presence, but his attempts at rock and roll and pop are off pitch. The packing of large amounts of information into song makes the plot incomprehensible at times.
The piece uses the small stage area of The Space well, creating vivid settings, mostly through the imagination. The necessary presence of other characters is handled cleverly: Oakfield steps into different roles with the kitschy lack of subtlety of a 1950s variety show, which suits the aesthetic of the piece perfectly.
The production does have the shell of a potentially explosive idea (in the successful theatre way – not the exploding guinea pig way), but would benefit from some finessing. If you’re looking for over-the-top humour set to a tune and boogie, it’s definitely worth checking out. Whether you step into the Musical Detective Agency or not, I suspect the musical talents of Tice Oakfield will be re-surfacing in the future as one to watch.
Author: Tice Oakfield
Director: Dadiow Lin
Musical Director: Matt Reynolds
Producer: Flying Dutchman
Box Office: 020 75157799
Booking Link: https://space.org.uk/
Booking Until: 8th March 2014