There are some reveals you by no means anticipate to see, and considered one of them, stated Nick Curtis within the London Night Commonplace, could be a “madcap” musical a couple of gay-friendly televangelist and the US Christian Proper within the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, with music by Elton John, lyrics by Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters, and guide by playwright James Graham. “However right here it’s and, reward the lord, it’s a non secular riot.”
Telling the story of the TV preacher Jim Bakker and his spouse Tammy Faye – who was initially the sidekick however grew to become the star – it’s a “divinely delirious glitz-bomb” of a present, stated Sarah Hemming within the FT, with zinging dialogue, infectious songs, “wildly camp dance routines” and “the ungovernable vitality of a roller-disco excessive on hairspray”. However below all of the fizz, it makes a severe level, about an “ungodly mixture of populism, politics and preaching that is still with us right now”.
Plucked from the obscurity of a Christian puppet present, Bakker and Faye are gifted a non secular satellite tv for pc channel by Ted Turner, stated Andrzej Lukowski in Time Out. This turns into a giant success – however solely when Tammy “breaks out of her meek Christian spouse function and begins addressing the viewers straight”.
Their story, which ends in tragedy and fraud, makes for “terrific leisure” and the musical numbers transfer issues alongside properly with glam-era pastiches plus “colossal torch songs”; and as Tammy, Katie Brayben provides a “efficiency that by no means loses sight” of the character’s “absurdity, however turns it into one thing exhilarating through sheer lung energy”.
Brayben is good, but sadly the present isn’t, stated Susannah Clapp in The Observer. Elton John’s contribution feels “dutiful slightly than divine”, and Graham’s script “lacks risk”.
The actual downside is that it offers us with no perception into its central characters, stated Clive Davis in The Instances. “Even in a musical with greater than a sprinkling of camp, we actually do have to know what makes individuals tick.” What we’re left with is the “playfully transgressive temper” of Jerry Springer: The Opera, however none of that musical’s “vicious satirical vitality”.
Almeida Theatre, London N1. Till 3 December