Pros: Fun! Great singing and choreography. Lovely venue.
Cons: Specific popular culture references which might not work for a general audience.
Stand and Deliver! is a fun packed, time travelling musical filled with football, classic 80’s hits, a wealth of popular culture references, groan-worthy puns, audience participation, impressive choreography and an overflow of sexual innuendo. There is never a dull moment. High energy and high silliness from beginning to end.
Football is at the heart of the story which centres on Frank Goldenboy, passionate supporter of a local non-league football team about whom in the 1980’s he wrote a fanzine magazine. The show begins as Frank is returning from a friend’s house laden with a box of 80’s memorabilia, including a copy of his beloved fanzine. En route he receives an unexplained blow to the head which catapults him, his two teenage children and the audience on a whirl wind dream adventure that is endlessly bizarre but somehow surprisingly entertaining.
As a child of the 80’s I thought that I would have no problem relating to a show predominately inspired by the decade. However the frame of reference for popular culture was much wider than just Adam and the Ants or Back to the Future. In fact it felt more like a romp through the annuals of the latter half of the 20th Century. Some of which was possibly beyond what I think a general audience might understand – especially anyone under the age of 30. Alan Hansen’s famous ‘You can’t win anything with kids’ dig at Manchester United from 1995 for example, went completely over my head. As did, what I retrospectively know to be a superb homage to a 1960’s windmill belonging to Windy Miller from Camberwick Green. Whilst the majority of the audience chuckled appreciatively behind me, there were several occasions where I felt like I knew something good was going on, but I had no idea what it was (thank goodness for the internet).
I really enjoyed the staging and the choreography. There was virtually no set at all, instead the actors themselves physically created furniture and props becoming portraits on the wall, chairs for other actors to sit on and trees for characters to hide behind. Not only was this visually compelling, it also created some enjoyable clowning moments as set and characters playfully interacted.
I felt the musical elements were the strongest parts of the performance. The choice of songs occasionally felt a little tenuous to the plot, but this was easily forgivable as the cast seemed to thrive in these moments and each song was wonderfully delivered with precise and effective choreography.
I personally didn’t enjoy the abundance of Carry On style sexual innuendos throughout the second half. These were undoubtedly a reflection of the style of Frank’s fanzine, which was called Naughty Sport. However, I thought it was overplayed at times and after a while left me feeling disconnected with the story. I am not however a Carry On fan, so others who are may perhaps enjoy these moments more and find them fitting to the genre.
There were highs and lows throughout. There were a lot of complicated plot strands which moved quickly from one scene to another, sometimes these transitions felt clunky at other times they were highly polished and perfectly delivered. What carried it through was the cast who were 100% committed to each and every moment, no matter how fanciful, sincere or off the wall it became.
Overall I found Stand and Deliver! to be immense fun. If you know your football and your popular culture, I think this one is definitely for you.
Author: Wayne Gumble
Director: Ella Marchment
Producer: Wayne Gumble
Choreographer: Alfred Taylor-Gaunt
Musical Director: Daniel Turek
Booking Until: Sunday’s until 15th March 2015
Box Office: 0207 478 0160
Booking Link: http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/main.html