Home » Reviews » Stand and Deliver!, King’s Head Theatre – Review
Credit: Wayne Gumble.
Credit: Wayne Gumble.

Stand and Deliver!, King’s Head Theatre – Review

Pros: Fun! Great singing and choreography. Lovely venue.

Cons: Specific popular culture references which might not work for a general audience.

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…

Summary

rating

Good

High energy and entertaining. Great cast. More enjoyable if you know your 20th Century popular culture, especially football.

User Rating: 3.88 ( 4 votes)

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 

About Vicki Pipe

Vicki Pipe
Vicki is a dance and theatre studies graduate, specialising in Shakespeare and Early Modern theatrical practices. She moved to London to study and stayed for the arts, theatre and life that the capital brings. By day she works in heritage education, by night you'll most likely find her tap dancing, taking photographs, browsing vintage clothes shops for anything 1940s, or in the upstairs room of a pub performing improvised comedy in the style of film-noir.
  • Briar Kit

    I really enjoyed S&D. A 5-star madcap play in the vein of anarchic comedies such as The Young Ones, Vic & Bob, Monty Python, Spike Milligan, The Goons, Rik Mayall, Noel Fielding, Blackadder, etc.

    Didn’t get all of the references in the jokes (Windy Miller?) but the delivery and style still made me laugh. I don’t expect to understand every reference in every play I see: always want to be challenged to learn something new.

    Thought the “can’t win anything with kids” joke worked on a lot of levels: the mark of a strong joke and good writing. Like Vicki, I’m not a fan of the Carry On films, but I thought the outlandish parodying of the series worked brilliantly.

    FWIW, my review is available at: http://briarkitesme.com/2015/02/16/stand-deliver-kingsheadthtr-review/

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    Currently playing twice every Sunday until 15 March 2015 at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington, London, Stand and Deliver is a musical comedy (I was unreliably assured that it is one of Boris Johnson’s favourite plays) that grabs audience members by the scruffs of their necks and takes them on a bewildering time-travelling ride in the company of a football fan-cum-highwayman, his two kids, a lascivious TV reporter, and a third-rate football pundit … among others.

    With belting renditions of hit songs from the 1980s (including the titular Stand and Deliver), and comedy from the sharpened nib of writer Wayne Gumble, the show delivers far more than it might appear to promise at first sight.

    It would be all too easy for Stand and Deliver to play like an adult pantomime – replete with enough bawdy innuendos to make all of the Carry On films and Fifty Shades of Grey blush with embarrassment – but thanks to Wayne Gumble’s fiercely honed script, Ella Marchment’s wonderfully imaginative directing, and Alfred Taylor-Gaunt’s charmingly narrative choreography, the ribald pantomime slides easily into sharp-witted farce and then moves on to become an entirely far more captivating and visual tour de force. A feast for eyes, ears and minds. A sublime onslaught of originality and artistry that makes it impossible to assimilate everything in just one sitting.

    When members of the cast become scenery and/or props (including a brilliant scene in which at the flick of a switch the “TV” changes from showing a slow-motion replay on Match of the Day to a re-run of Carry On Camping); when members of the audience are pulled – rather willingly – on to the stage to act as trees; and when the actors throw comic asides to the audience about the show’s fringe-theatre budget, you begin to realise that Stand and Deliver is far more than the sum of its parts.

    In musical comedies, the storytelling often staggers uneasily as it navigates the changes between its gags, songs and dances, but under Ella Marchment’s direction, the transitions are fluid, dynamic and stimulating. The actors deliver their lines at pace, while skilfully shifting between scenes and managing to sing and dance simultaneously … although it is perhaps wrong to describe their movements as dance, given that every single motion and scene change has both meaning and humour. This is not a play in which the actors resort to lacklustre formation dancing: this is action and interaction on a bewilderingly intoxicating scale.

    When two of the actors start to sing the song from Dirty Dancing, the audience can’t help but wonder how they will manage the lift that was made famous in the movie, and which has been parodied ever since.

    The conundrum in Stand and Deliver is all the greater given that the actor carrying the weight of the move has to lift a bearded partner who is more generously proportioned than he is. The grace, wit and simplicity with which the lift is achieved is utterly beguiling and thrilling. It is rightly greeted with a roar of applause and approval from the audience.

    Where other directors and choreographers might opt for an unimaginative lift, flop and unedifying grope in order to get cheap laughs, Ella Marchment and Alfred Taylor-Gaunt offer a solution that cherishes the actors, values the audience, and marks the creative pair out as rather unique and determinedly avant-garde talents.

    The cast fill the stage with so much wit, warmth and energy that it is hard to believe that the whole production relies on just ten actors. And thanks to the even-handedness of Wayne Gumble’s writing, all of the actors have opportunities to stand in the spotlight and shine.

    Sara Lynam’s exquisitely lascivious TV presenter spars and cavorts outrageously with Joey Bartram’s keenly nuanced football pundit (his “you can’t win anything with kids” joke manages to work on so many levels), while Alex Murphy’s powerful and weirdly believable transition from 1980s’ football fan to 18th-century highwayman tees the play up perfectly for a belting delivery of Adam Ant’s Stand and Deliver. (Half of the audience mouth the words inaudibly in true we-want-to-sing-along fashion.)

    Robyn Howe and Rob Peacock shine as Alex Murphy’s onstage family (Rob Peacock’s post-play transformation rendering him almost unrecognisable … such good acting); and Rebecca Travers brings great comic timing and bravura to the tavern-owning character of Nell Cleavidge.

    Of all the characters in the play, Penny Flats – as the Cruella-de-Villian baddy – is the most complex, challenging and unlovable, and yet the lyrical Laura Coutts manages to make her rhyming-couplet character come alive with real panache. Wah-ha-ha-ha-ha.

    Charles Timson plays the bumbling referee Renato with suitably shambolic aplomb, and Regan Gumble as Mrs Fenton puts in an admirable and witty turn – especially when riffing insults with her onstage husband.

    And in Adam Scott Pringle (as both Mr Fenton and Boscombe Chart), the show has an actor who manages to engage the audience with self-assured ease: there’s more than just a hint of Ewan McGregor and James McAvoy in the Scottish actor’s confident delivery and presence.

    Polishing the production from the wings are Daniel Turek as musical director and pianist; and stage manager April Lindsay, who deftly keeps the play on track, well timed, and well lit throughout.

    All in all, Stand and Deliver offers just short of two hours of ribald and frenetic entertainment that is taken to an altogether more sublime level thanks to its wonderfully creative and imaginative production standards. Go and see it for its sharp script, its enthralling directing, its clever choreography, and its perfectly pitched and engaging cast. You’ll love it. It is inventiveness and wit turned up to eleventy-stupid: an anarchically wonderful must-see play that does so much more than anyone has the right to hope. For sheer entertainment, fringe theatre doesn’t get any better than this. Even big-budget productions would struggle to keep up.

    5 STARS

    PRODUCTION TEAM

    Wayne Gumble – Writer & Producer

    Ella Marchment – Director

    Alfred Taylor-Gaunt – Choreographer

    April Lindsay – Stage Manager

    Daniel Turek – Musical Director

    CAST

    Adam Scott Pringle

    Alex Murphy

    Charles Timson

    Joey Bartram

    Laura Coutts

    Rebecca Travers

    Regan Gumble

    Rob Peacock

    Robyn Howe

    Sara Lynam

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