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Boom Bang-A-Bang – Above The Stag review by Ifan Llewelyn

★ 

The Eurovision Song Contest is a part of our cultural fabric as Brits, and has been for as long as most of us can remember. It’s that one television event that has us coming back each year. Game of Thrones finales come and go, but Eurovision is a constant. It holds an especially dear place in the hearts of us British homosexuals, a night of the year where we can lather ourselves in campery and don’t have to hold back our squeals of queer joy. The Academy Awards can step aside, this is our gay Christmas. Turning back the clock to 1995, Boom Bang-A-Bang takes us to a time when the gay Eurovision Party was at its most prolific and strides in gay liberation met a shameless love for schlager. 

In the living room of a Kentish Town flat, we meet Lee (Adam McCoy) as he preps for his viewing party. The twenty-something Scouser has decided to continue the tradition of hosting the evening despite the recent passing of his late partner Michael. From the outset, things aren’t really going to plan with his sister Wendy (Tori Hargreaves) misjudging the baking of her garlic bread, and his peculiar neighbour Norman (Joshua Coley) is a little too eager to hang about. The evening freefalls from disaster to disaster as his guests clash and secrets bubble up to the surface. 

Joshua Coley as Norman, Boom Bang-A-Bang at Above the Stag Theatre. Photograph: RBG Studios.

Jonathan Harvey was in his mid ’20s when this comedy of errors first hit the stage, and his past energy and sheer boisterousness are still alive and kicking in this writing. Zingy one-liners and the absurdist twist of events relay themselves with all the unbridled excitement of a young writer. He holds nothing back in making his cast of characters as exaggerated as he wants them to be. Norman reads like something from a comedy sketch show, which might not be Chekov, but is undoubtedly entertaining. 

Each character is a delightful exaggeration of the stragglers you’re forced to mingle with at unavoidably intimate parties in tiny London flats. The actor, Nick (John Hogg), who’s way too into boasting their soap-opera cameo, the excruciatingly snarky queen, Steph (Christopher Lane), who’s a master of the underhanded compliment, and the wide-eyed, naive gay youth, Roy (Sean Huddlestan), who’s really on the wrong path and has a severe case of the foot-in-mouth. 

With it being almost a quarter of a century old, some of the language would not make the final cut today, from Norman “monging around” his flat to Tania’s suspected “beating” by her boyfriend basically being a punchline. But the nineties were a simpler time, when Donald Trump was just a real estate mogul and Playboy was a respected publication that your father would purchase “just for the articles”. These are nineties characters speaking with all the sophistication of a turkey dinosaur, and that’s okay.

Florence Odumosu as Tania, Boom Bang-A-Bang at Above the Stag Theatre. Photograph: RBG Studios.

This is an evening of raucous fun that takes you back to a time when a gherkin really was the height of sophistication, and an Annie Lennox song was the perfect articulation of your innermost feelings. A bombastic cast of characters perfectly pitched by a company of talented actors, with the exception of the mid-nineties decor there’s very little to dislike.  

Boom Bang-A-Bang is running at the Above the Stag Theatre until June 9th. Tickets available at AboveTheStag.com

Above The Stag Theatre – LGBT-focused Theatre!

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