Home » London Theatre Reviews » Fun At The Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!! at Southwark Playhouse | Review

Fun At The Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!! at Southwark Playhouse | Review

Billed as “Grease meets Squid Game” Fun At The Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!! (yes, two exclamation marks), it’s less Grease more the kind of beach party movies such as Bikini Beach and Beach Blanket Bingo that used to get churned out in the early sixties and were really popular in the US but never had the same success over here. But whatever it’s based on, it’s an interesting mash-up of two distinctly opposite genres.

Janice Landry (Chastity), Dixie Newman (Ensemble), Katie Oxman (Chickie) and Ellie Clayton (Mary Joe) - credit Danny Kaan.
Janice Landry (Chastity), Dixie Newman (Ensemble), Katie Oxman (Chickie) and Ellie Clayton (Mary Joe) – credit Danny Kaan.

As the show starts, we’re introduced to the cast. There are the boys: the dumb but hunky dude called Dude (played by Jack Whittle), the nerd with glasses, Joe (Tom Babbage) and the oddball who makes bird noises, Dickie (Damien James). Then there are the girls: the dumb but pretty Chastity (Janice Landry), the nerd with glasses Mary Joe (Ellie Clayton) and the oddball who makes bird noises Chickie (Katie Oxman) – can you work out who pairs up with whom? There are also two ensemble performers, Dixie Newman and Bradley Adams who play everyone else. The other character (more of him later) is The Announcer played by Martin Landry who also wrote the book.

The plot (and it’s very slight), gets all the characters pairing up (I’m sure you’ve worked it out by now) during a competition to find the King or Queen Of The Beach and that’s where the Squid Games part of the concept comes into play as the games are very dangerous, fatal in fact, such as swimming in shark invested waters with chicken giblets in your shorts, beach balls with jolts of electricity when you catch them and a limbo bar that kills – it’s fun, fun on the beach.

But what makes Fun At The Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!! what it is are the seventeen or so songs written by Brandon Lambert who’s also the musical director of the four-piece band who true to the spirit of the show are dressed in shorts and Hawaiian shirts. The songs are pastiches of songs of the period and amongst the original songs they’re based on, I spotted “It’s In His Kiss”, “The Locomotion”, “Surfin USA”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “It’s My Party” and “What A Wonderful World” amongst others. In fact, the pastiche melodies are so close to the originals I hope that the music copyright police don’t come knocking on their door asking for royalties. Whilst the music is excellent – you can’t go wrong parodying some of the great songs of the period – the lyrics leave something to be desired and are a little limp.

The real star of the show is Martin Landry as The Announcer. His deep, sonorous tones direct the characters to play the deadly games and he has the best lines. His voice comes out of two loudspeakers at each end of the set which take on a life of their own turning towards the character they’re talking to or drooping when things go wrong. They and the character are reminiscent of Audrey II in Little Shop Of Horrors another musical that seems to have influenced this one.

In front of a cartoon set, the cartoon characters – they reminded me of the crew from “Scooby-Doo” – are having great fun and the audience I saw it with lapped it up but in the end, it’s a bit of a one-trick pony and even at eighty-five minutes, it seems a little long and repetitious. Southwark Playhouse had a big success recently with another spoof of a quintessential American cultural icon, the cop show in Police Cops: The Musical and I’m sure they’re hoping lightning will strike twice – I’m not convinced it will but we’ll see. As one of the characters says: “Even the stupidest musical can survive if there’s one good song”.

2 gold stars

Review by Alan Fitter

Cast: Bradley Adams (Ensemble), Tom Babbage (Joe), Ellie Clayton (Mary Joe), Damien James (Dickie), Janice Landry (Chastity), Martin Landry (Announcer), Dixie Newman (Ensemble), Katie Oxman (Chickie) and Jack Whittle (Dude)

Director: Mark Bell; Set and Costume Designer: Emily Bestow; Sound Design: Andy Graham; Choreographer: Francesca Jaynes; Lighting Design: Adam King; Musical Direction: Brandon Lambert

It’s a hot, sunny day at the beach and everyone is gearing up for a competition that will change (or end) their lives forever: the legendary Beach Romp-Bomp-a-Lomp!!

Everyone wants to be King or Queen of the Beach, but who will get the crown? And will they all fall in love and live happily ever after? As the competition progresses through an increasingly deadly series of beach events, the biggest question of all is: can this show find yet another excuse to crowbar in a song?! YES!

Sarah Long presents
Music and Lyrics by Brandon Lambert & Book by Martin Landry
24 May – 22 June 2024
At Southwark Playhouse Borough, The Large

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