Home » London Theatre Reviews » Frank’s Closet at the Union Theatre | Review

Frank’s Closet at the Union Theatre | Review

What would you give up for love? That’s a nice topic for the day. Personally, I’m so desperate to be loved I’d give up and compromise everything for a pair of arms to hold me, but other people may have more about them. And that brings me nicely to Frank’s Closet which has just returned to London at the Union Theatre.

Frank's Closet. Andy Moss and cast. Photo by Danny Kaan.
Frank’s Closet. Andy Moss and cast. Photo by Danny Kaan.

Frank (Andy Moss) is getting ready to get married. Like many on the precipice of marriage, he is nervous and happy in equal measure. He is also sad as his fiancé Alan has told Frank that he must dispose of his collection of fabulous dresses belonging to iconic divas. As Frank reluctantly starts to pack up the dresses before they are sent to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Frank starts to fantasise about the Diva (Luke Farrugia) who owned each piece of clothing, and they appear to him – accompanied by Gaiety Girl Gertie Snipe (Jack Rose), Gaiety Girl Daisy Dares (Sarah Freer), Gaiety Girl Carrie Poppers (Olivia McBride) and Gaiety Girl Alice Plate (Oliver Bradley-Taylor) – with a song that reflects his concerns and gives him advice on what to do. As the time for the pickup draws closer, and the calls from Alan and his mother become more frantic, Frank has to decide if he really wants to give up his dresses for his man or if the divas come first.

I have to say, despite what I’ve written up there if I had been in Franks’ shoes and been told it’s the dresses or me by a man, then Alan would have hit the road with the words (borrowing from another musical) “Take me for what I am, Who I was meant to be, And if you give a damn, Take me baby or leave me” ringing in his ears. And that would have made for a very short show. Luckily, Frank is a bit more thoughtful and so we can follow his story and the anguish he feels at trying to please his husband-to-be and family by sacrificing things he loves. Writer/Composer Stuart Wood has penned a very entraining tale of the conflicts of love and the image we must portray and our real selves. Frank is a lovely guy just trying to do right for everybody, even if it means sacrificing his own happiness as he tells us the story behind each item and what they meant to him. Andy Moss’s performance is nicely nuanced, and I really warmed to Frank as a character and as a man.

Full credit to Luke Farrugia who, resplendent in Steven Metcalfe’s costumes and wigs brought some of the greatest divas and female artistes to life to advise Frank. The poster shows them, so I won’t be giving anything away to tell you that Frank is visited by Marie Lloyd, Julie Andrews, Ethel Merman, Karen Carpenter, Agnetha of ABBA, Judy Garland, and Dusty Springfield. Farrugia makes each person their own and brings the diva to life in fine style. Particular favourites for me were Mary Lloyd and a very surprising Julie Andrew. Not to mention Ethel Merman in the most magnificent gown. Accompanied by the very hard-working and equally glamorous Gaiety Girls the Divas advise and entertain in equal measure.

Musical Director Anto Buckley and their team are over in the far corner of the stage and the cast are all miked up but there did seem to be some problems with sound and there were a few occasions where the singing and instrument levels seemed to be balanced wrongly and lyrics were missed which was a shame as the songs were nicely written to reflect the style of the diva singing them.

Director Sasha Regan uses the space well and Frank’s closet space is beautifully laid out to fit in with Frank’s imagination as a sort of music hall/cabaret venue. This theme is carried on out to the bar where the lovely Sheila Blige (Paul Toulson) flirts and entertains the audience before the start and during the interval meaning everyone is lively and happy, ready to head into the closet.

Overall, I was thoroughly entertained by this show and enjoyed my first visit to the newly refurbished Frank’s Closet. I didn’t really know what to expect and wasn’t on the whole disappointed with what was delivered, although I did feel the ending was a bit sudden.

Frank’s Closet, like Frank, the Divas and Gaiety Girls is high Camp with a capital ‘C’ and fun from start to finish.

4 stars

REview by Terry Eastham

@TheUnionTheatre

@Frankscloset
Frank teeters on the precipice of marriage to his beloved Alan, who has given him an ultimatum – he must give up the toys and joys of singledom, and donate his fabulous collection of the dresses of iconic divas to the V&A museum. Amidst continual calls from Alan, his mother, and once (briefly) his father, Frank retreats into a fantasy world where he is The Chairman of The Music Hall.

Through the magical portal of his closet door, the divas visit him in turn, aided and abetted by a quartet of Gaiety Girls. Each diva delivers a musical number containing a gem of good, or at least well-intentioned, advice. But will frocks or fiancé ultimately triumph…?

Cast:
Andy Moss, Luke Farrugia, Jack Rose, Oliver Bradley-Taylor
Sarah Freer, Olivia McBride, Paul Toulson.

Creative team:
Writer and Composer Stuart Wood
Director Sasha Regan
Music Director Anto Buckley
Production Designer Catherine Phelps
Choreographer Jo McShane
Producers Sasha Regan, Karim-Pasha Ladbon & Stephen MacLeod Barnes

LISTINGS INFO
Sasha Regan, Karim-Pasha Ladbon
& Stephen MacLeod Barnes
present

Frank’s Closet
written and composed by
Stuart Wood
Directed by Sasha Reagan

Union Theatre
Old Union Arches
229 Union Street
London, SE1 0LR
6 – 30 March 2024

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