Son of a Preacher Man review

There really is Nowhere to Run for this shambolically lazy production, even Dusty's soulful singing cannot save this mightily misjudged performance.

Son of a Preacher Man review

Dusty Springfield was a legend of pop for a generation growing up in the 1960s, and for those of a younger age she's the name behind half of those throwback bangers that make you go, "oh yeah, that one!" Needless to say, the auditorium was brimming with cardigans of varying shades of beige.

As the curtain raised five minutes late to accomodate for the doddering audience, the 2D cartoonish set made it clear where the quality of this production lay; we had arrived in panto-land months too early. Whilst there are some production elements that pantomime can be excused for; ridiculous costumes, a far flung plot and terrible acting, a West End production should surely be held to a higher standard.

In the literally and figuratively flat backdrop of London's Soho, the story follows three broken hearts in the modern day. The trio attempt to reconnect to their past through visiting the Preacher Man, the swinging Soho joint where people used to dance the night away - queue Dusty tunes. However this once legendary site has now been reduced to a gentrified coffee shop - no wistful nostalgia in sight here!

The first story of heartbreak is faced by Kat (Diana Vickers), a teenager with all the usual tropes attached. Seemingly loathing her highly privileged position on stage, Vickers produces an infuriatingly lazy performance. Executing half hearted dance moves, moping about the space with a bland drawl, she simply lack professionalism. Flicking her hair in characteristically pop star fashion and providing the audience with various angles of the back of her head, Vickers needs to remove her complacency whilst performing in a West End production.

This sincere dissatisfaction from the cast is a quality that runs throughout the whole production, from Deborah Stephenson's dull delivery (highly surprising for a well known impressionist) to Micheal Howe's entertainingly unnecessary use of falsetto; Craig Revel Horwood's appallingly amateur direction is to fault here. With an extensive background in all that is over the top, it would appear Strictly and Pantomime is the only style he knows, doing Dusty a great disservice.

Paul (Micheal Howe) and Alison (Deborah Stephenson), the other two members who form the lonely hearts club, offer storylines that are both disastrously misjudged. Alison is a trained school teacher, now taken up work as a personal tutor who falls in love with her underage pupil. To the tune of three songs, pedophillia is shamefully romantisised, as Alison questions her conflicted mindset as a grown woman falling in love. Alison, you are not conflicted, you are WRONG.

Meanwhile Paul is a 50 something year old gay man who has been lusting after his first crush from decades ago. We follow his search to rekindle love with this man, but despite the previous partner's various cries of "leave me alone", the production seems to confuse this message with the idea that he is playing hard to get, dismissing the hard fact that Paul is a predatory individual who will not take no for an answer.

As an audience we can't help but pity the excessively talented cast of actor musicians, notably Ellie-Jane Goddard, Gary Mitchinson and Rachel McAllister, who demonstrate their recent drama school training through impressive vocals and some desperately required believable acting, you would even begin to think it was their job

Craig Revel Horwood's attempts to prove he is current enough to handle a modern musical have been quashed amidst the dated references to, clumsy physical theatre sequences and the glaring absence of political correctness.

Son of a Preacher Man offers more proof that B list celebrities sell shows but can't create them effectively - it's about time they gave someone else a turn.


Maddie Drury

Maddie Drury Contributor

Maddie is currently studying History and Journalism at Goldsmiths University. Like a 40-year-old man takes to running, Maddie has recently become obsessed with learning Spanish.

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  • Luke Taylor

    On 15 November 2017, 11:05 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    I could almost feel how terrible the play was in this review...

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