It was always bound to happen. Create a massively successful reality television show like ITV’s ‘X Factor’ and some kind of parody or spin off was always going to appear. To date we’ve already seen ‘Peter Kay’s Britain’s Got the Pop Factor’ become moderately successful on Channel Four, and Spice Girls’ ill fated musical ‘Viva Forever’ last year had more than a passing likeness to X Factor as well. Given the varying performances of those two you can therefore imagine it was with some apprehension last night nutleyone sat down to watch ‘I Can’t Sing’ – which interestingly is no longer billed as ‘The X Factor Musical’ despite the fact it is a superb parody.
Now in previews, opens March 26th at the London Palladium
Let’s be honest it is not that difficult to understand why the producers of the X Factor may not want to associate themselves with this show. It’s not a truthful homage. This is a brilliantly entertaining take on the X Factor that only British humour could deliver. From a talking dog named ‘Barlow’ to a budding romance to a rather amusing sequence that simply screams everything we thought Jedward should have been – this show will have you laughing from start to finish as it takes you on Chenice’s journey to the X Factor as she believes she can’t sing – she even has a Grandpa with an iron lung! As one of the other contestants laments she has a back story that anyone would want.
Special mentions have to go to Simon Lipkin who plays ‘Barlow’ the dog and Simon Bailey who is pitch perfect as ‘Liam O’Dreary’. Between the pair of them they almost steal the show, Lipkin with his superb timing and one-liners (let’s be honest – the characters don’t hear him – he’s a dog!) and Bailey with his physical comedy as he gets Dermot down to an exaggerated ‘T’ are both a joy to watch. If that doesn’t grab you there’s an absolutely blinding star turn from Cynthia Erivo as Chenice when she sings the show’s title song ‘I Can’t Sing’ and an extremely amusing ending where the ‘truth’ is all finally revealed.
In short if you are looking for a cyncially British, topical, funny musical – this is exactly it, even if the plot is as thin as a Ryvita cracker. American tourists won’t get it, but us, the British most definitely will with gags involving everything from Splash! to Cheryl Cole all the way to Simon Cowell’s newborn baby. This is possibly the show’s biggest credit, that it almost totally encapsulates British humour in a nutshell. This is not a show for theatre luvvies – this is a show for the British public. If you have seen ‘Viva Forever’ you will draw similarities with some of the basic plot as the judges plot behind the scenes to the detriment of our main characters, but this is exactly where the similarities end as this show does exactly what it says on the tin.
With previews due to end on March 25th this is one I would definitely put on the ‘to see’ list.
I Can’t Sing performs at the London Palladium Monday to Saturday 7.30pm with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays at 2pm,
Nutleyone rating: 8/10