Cruising, and by that I mean getting into some sort of boat and traveling aimlessly on the high seas, has become a very popular pastime, in fact over 21 million people – 60% of them American – go on a cruise every year. A quick Google (other search engines are available) search reveals that there are cruises designed for every type of person. For example, there is Blues Cruise, which has just docked in Soho’s Above the Arts Theatre, which seems to cater for those that would like an Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair.
Beginning with a flashback to the night when Captain Bleufonde (Joe McArdle) lost the love of his life overboard. Twenty years later and Blues Cruise journey no 666 and with warnings about the end of the world coming soon, Captain Bleufonde is determined to find his dead girlfriend. Assisted by First Mate Fittles (Will Hearle), the Captain changes the ship’s destination from the Caribbean to someplace in the arctic where a number of apocalyptic storms are converging. Up on deck, cruise rep Hanks Leeroys (Craig W Methven) – a tall man with a suspiciously fluid accent – is trying to fight off the not so honorable attention of a lusty elderly passenger (Ros Ford) while her best friend (Steve Duffy) tries to reign in her excesses of behaviour. At the same time, Hanks has broken the Golden Commandment and fallen in love with pure innocent nun Sister Evie Lowe (Imogen Brabant). As with all such trips, there are secrets being kept firmly and in some cases not so firmly hidden and unspoken love seems to be the major one. Will the cruise end in a fiery, watery grave or will the course of true love make itself felt leading to a rousing finale with jazz hands aplenty?
Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair has its book, music & lyrics by Steve Duffy and Theo McCabe (who also directs) and is a really great, fun show from start to finish. The plot is possibly one of the worst B-movie stories ever thought-out but, like Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space could easily turn into a cult classic. However, having said that there were some interesting themes running through including obsession, unrequited love, lust and how to occupy your time when stuck on a big metal boat with thousands of strangers in the middle of an ocean. From the start, with the death of Captain Bleufonde’s girlfriend, and Fittles attempt to save her, I was smiling and that smile stayed on my face throughout the sixty minute, high energy performance.
It’s difficult to pick out one thing that demonstrates exactly how Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair managed to get everything so right. It just did. From the three-piece band that entertained us as we took our seats, to the spartan, yet effective set design, every aspect worked extremely well. The story was fun, the songs were extremely well put together and appropriate to the plot and the cast were just superb.
A true ensemble piece, it is nigh on impossible to single any one member of the cast for extra praise, as they fit together like a fantastically well-oiled team. Indeed it is easy to see how much they were enjoying themselves – a couple of times, members of the band were laughing along and they must have seen the show a few times before. However, I will give a quick high-five to both Will Hearle as Fittles and Craig W Methven as Hanks. Will for one of the most outrageously OTT, but very endearing, camp performances I’ve seen for a while and Craig for producing a wonderful accent that, rather like the Gendarme in ‘Allo Allo’ could produce words that sounded like anything he wanted them to. Anyone that can make the word apocalypse sound like an invitation to kiss (a pucker lips) is a genius in my book.
Was there anything wrong in Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair I hear you mutter as you read this. Well yes, it wasn’t long enough, I was enjoying it so much I really wanted it to carry on for another half hour or more. If a real cruise is half as much fun as this wonderful show then sign me up. They say laughter is the best medicine and I was feeling extremely happy and rejuvenated when I left and the Blues Cruise sailed off into the sunset. Congratulations to everyone involved for putting on such an entertaining show.
Review by Terry Eastham
Welcome aboard Blues Cruise journey no. 666, where the weather is glorious, the Sundeck is heaving and eternally lusty Captain Bleufonde has decided to resurrect his dead lover by sailing into an apocalyptic storm.
Will love overcome all at the end of the world? Come hell or high water the bar will be serving.
Performances: Tue 25th – Sat 29th October at 7:30pm
Tue – Thu £12 / £10 concessions & Under 25s
Fri – Sat £14/ £12 concessions & Under 25s
Age recommendation: 12+
Duration: 1 hour (no interval)