Pros: Fascinating and ingenious uses of sound and movement that are thoroughly entertaining.
Cons: The show is somewhat disjointed and lacks any narrative cohesion.
The heat inside the big top at the Udderbelly was more and more stifling as the never ending flow of bodies poured in and squashed together. We all stared expectantly at the set of piled up speakers, each with its own twinkling lightbulb; a simple idea and definitely a striking spectacle. After a few minutes one of the characters appeared on stage and lounged around uncomfortably on one of the speakers. He seemed to be lethargically checking something, tapping the wood of the speakers, and it just came across as odd. This initial impression soon dissipated though, as the show began and we were treated to a medley of pop hits produced entirely by the voices of the obviously very talented cast. Each singer has their own character and every different song is like a small cut scene, with some great use of movement and sound and plenty of added humour.
There definitely is a nod here to the recent trend of a cappella singing becoming popular in the mainstream (think Glee and Pitch Perfect). But the original use of sound and particularly the prominence, and ridiculous skills, of the beatboxer add an extra dimension and make Gobsmacked! stand out from the crowd. The song selection is pretty standard; Queen, Adele and Taylor Swift all make an appearance. That’s not a criticism though, because this is exactly what everyone was expecting. There were some duffers that left the audience visibly deflated, but more often than not the performers brought us back under their sway with another belter.
The title of the show is certainly justified for the most part, with plenty of moments of ‘gobsmackage’ at the slick and inspiring sounds coming out of the human beings on stage. Sounds that defy belief: are they really only using their voices?
Overall, there isn’t anything to dislike about this show. I was more than satisfied after leaving the tent, and the rest of the audience was buzzing as we all tried to squeeze ourselves back out into the sunlight. The one thing I did think could have improved the show was more narrative that ran through the whole hour show rather than each song being a stand-alone. Subtle tensions or favouritisms between the characters being revealed throughout the show would have taken this performance to the next level.
Director: Alexandra Spencer-Jones
Musical Director: Jack Blume
Producers: Nic Doodson, Andrew Kay, Phil Bathols and The TCB Group
Booking Link: http://www.udderbelly.co.uk/whats-on/gobsmacked
Booking Until: 17 July 2016