Pros: Musical comedy with silly songs. It is easy to watch and has an epic bite.
Cons: If you’re unlucky you might be seated behind a pole.
This was my first time at Above The Arts Theatre and I received a very warm and friendly welcome from all of the staff and a CD of the show’s songs. I can tell you now it won’t go to waste (I have it on repeat). The lobby of the theatre, which is also a café/bar, is a small intimate space which can get very crowded when it’s full of people leaving and waiting to watch performances. Despite this, it had a very familiar, friendly atmosphere which made me feel at ease.
When we entered the auditorium, we sat surrounded by black walls with frantic equations scribbled on in chalk. To the right, a desk filled with books, to the left a few chairs with a handsome 1950s style-dressed youth slouched in one of them. This is tale of the eccentric Dr Bloom, and his ‘Sexy Nurse’, who tries to restore order to a waiting room full of hilarious patients.
The set was simple: equations drawn in chalk on the black cloth background. Even though this looked interesting it had no great effect on the performance or the story. For me, the energetic cast and mesmerising music really stood on their own without the need of fancy costumes or design.
The whole cast performed with a great amount of energy and their comic timing was brilliant. This was appreciated by the whole audience who clapped and cheered at the end of every song. All of the performers were very talented but the lead (the useless “Dr Bloom” played by Joe McArdle) gave an unforgettable performance. I found myself copying his vampire accent all the way home much to my friends’ annoyance. My other favourite character was Mrs Baldwin, played by Roz Ford with some of the sassiest lines in the production! She left me crying with laughter as she tap danced on the grave of her recently deceased Millionaire husband. The production wouldn’t have been complete without the rest of the comical cast of waiting room victims including Craig Methven, Abby Jackson, Imogen Brabant, John Rushton and Martin MacLennan.
The band were positioned in various places around the intimate stage. The piano blended in nicely with Dr Bloom’s desk and the rest of the tech team were placed either backstage or at the back of the room. This musical comedy had the entire audience in stitches and roaring with laughter for most of the performance. The lyrics had fantastic flow and were witty and silly all at the same time.
I can only find one fault with this show and that is the seating: a strange horseshoe style arrangement, all on one level, which made viewing any of the action happening on the floor very difficult. Also, there was a gigantic pole slap bang in the middle of the room. I found my view restricted by this which I was not warned about beforehand. The setting was non-allocated, so I suppose it was just left up to luck. Unfortunately I pulled the short straw. I saw and heard most of the show pretty well regardless, and it certainly didn’t stop me laughing until it hurt.
Vampire Hospital Waiting Room is an energetic musical comedy which hopefully will live forever. Definitely one of my favourite experiences I have had in any theatre for the simple reason that I couldn’t stop laughing. The whole show had a familiar feel and gave me a nostalgic sense of a French and Saunders sketch show. Which in my book is fantastic.
Directed by: Theo Macabe
Booking Until: 21 November 2015.
Box Office: 020 7836 8463
Booking Link: https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/vampire-hospital-waiting-room/