It’s all about Harry Ledgerman (Henry Moss) in this delightful and delectable exploration of the cut-throat and ever-unforgiving entertainment industry, where anyone only seems to be as good as their last performance. It is not enough, Harry asserts, to be a ‘triple threat’, as there are so many singers-actors- dancers out there now that there must be a fourth dimension to one’s key skills in order to stand out from the crowd. Hence, Quadruple Threat.
There are justifiable reservations that some people in the industry have about why they should be labelled as ‘threats’ at all. I quite agree that, say, ‘quadruple talent’, for instance, would be altogether more pleasant. This is, however, another discussion for another occasion, as Harry wastes no time in getting down to business, which takes the form of a ‘TED Talk’, but for the arts industry. This is, therefore, a ‘SHED Talk’ – Self Help in the Entertainment Division.
Pivotal to proceedings is musical director Sarah Bodalbhai, whose fingers barely cease to tinker the ivories in a show that is quite extraordinary in the sheer number of musical numbers packed in, drawn from musical theatre and chart music (even I recognised a tune made famous by Justin Bieber) and other genres. It’s all rattled through seamlessly, without the performance coming across in any way rushed.
An excellent rapport was established with the audience, which I think would have been achieved even if a substantial proportion of the audience at the performance I attended weren’t actors and/or singers and/or dancers themselves. Harry, as it turns out, is quite the mover and performer. I am not sure whether the microphone for a vocal as strong as his was strictly necessary in a studio performance space, though it should be noted that the assumption is to be made that this ‘SHED Talk’ is taking place in a major conference venue.
There’s some observational comedy which was possible to follow even without a working knowledge of all things musical theatre (though admittedly, if you happen to have one, it does help). Again and again a number would begin in such a manner that had the audience in cahoots, only for it to turn out to be performed brilliantly, building to an impressive finish.
A number of celebrity interviews demonstrate Henry Moss’ versatility still further, as he plays out each character himself: he utterly nails both the persona and intonations of Dame Judi Dench. The rendering of her version of ‘Send In The Clowns’ is simply magnificent, and frankly, it’s worth attending this show just for that. It’s not all glitz and glamour, and a poignant and starkly forthright couple of scenes see Harry facing far more rejections than acceptances when auditioning for roles. It happens to the best. A fascinating portrayal of an actors’ agent is either a demonstration of the sheer diplomacy skills required to fulfil that sort of role, or else ruthless backstabbing.
The show achieves a relative rarity in making a resounding success of someone writing, directing and starring in their own production. Is it life imitating art, or art imitating life, or both? Quadruple Threat by name, quadruple threat by nature.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Henry Moss plays Harry Ledgerman a musical theatre star and national treasure who after a public mental break down is desperate to revamp his career. He aims to promote his tell all celebrity memoir ‘Quadruple Threat’ by hosting a series of motivational workshops featuring other obnoxious guest speakers who all claim they have the secret to success. Because these days being a triple threat just isn’t enough…
Sun 23 July 9:30pm
Sat 5 – Sun 6 August 3pm
Hen & Chickens
109 St Pauls Road, London N1 2NA
Written and directed by Henry Moss