There are so many variations of the Romeo and Juliet story, complete with warring families (as the recent announcement regarding & Juliet testifies), and Timpson The Musical adds yet another one, a hammy and raucous account of how the Timpson chain of high street shops was founded. Far be it from me to spoil a party, but anyone who comes out of this show believing the narrative is a full and historically accurate record really does have problems. Notwithstanding that amongst their many employees, there are bound to be a range of opinions on this production for those that have seen or will see it, The Timpson Group not only doesn’t mind but has given the production its stamp of approval.
The Timpson website considers it “one of the weirdest and wackiest shows” at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018. Having immersed myself in that summer festival environment, I can see why the show was a hoot there. In London, I quite happily chortled away, embracing the absurdity of it all. There’s even an arty moment when a solo number transforms into a sing-off when there is some ‘confusion’ as to who is supposed to be singing the song. But for some others on press night I could sense this was becoming something of a test of endurance, a feeling that the show need not be quite so exaggerated and devoid of subtlety in order to have the same comic effect.
In the opening number, they’re on about Victorian London moving along at a remarkable pace, and the parts of the show itself rattle along very briskly too. Monty Montashoe (Madeleine Gray) has invented a ‘people flap’, which serves no purpose other than to be a cat flap large enough for his own mother, Lady Montashoe (Rachael Chomer) to, well, exit stage right. Master Keypulet (James Stirling) is still reeling from his ‘tiny saw’ invention losing out to the Montashoes, who won the annual ‘Innovation Convention’ the previous year. At the following Convention, the younger ones, Keeleigh Keypulet (Sabrina Messer) and Monty, fall in love. When the older Keypulet finds out, the story takes a nasty turn.
Now, this being a musical comedy, it takes a few more plot twists, some technically more feasible than others, before a suitably happy ending is reached. But then this is the sort of show that works if one just goes with the flow. One need not necessarily, as one of the musical numbers suggests, “sit in silence and accept it” – ‘it’ being the unfairness of life – but the increasingly ludicrous proceedings are strangely entertaining.
In the variety of different musical styles sprinkled throughout the sharp and infectiously amusing performance lie some parodies from other shows for hardcore fans of musical theatre to love or indeed loathe. The sound balance between the three-piece band and the unamplified voices of the cast was excellent, at least from my vantage point. Overall, a hugely charismatic winter warmer.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Two warring houses. One ancient grudge. A whole lot of shoes. Can the warring houses of Montashoe and Keypulet be united by a pair of star-crossed lovers? Journey to Victorian London where Monty Montashoe and Keeleigh Keypulet, two young inventors bursting with ambition, strive to break free from the confines of their parents and follow their dreams all the way to the 50th annual ‘Invention Convention’!
Timpson: The Musical
Book and Lyrics Sam Cochrane and Chris Baker
Music Theo Caplan and Tom Slade
Director Sam Cochrane and Chris Baker
Designer Doug Cairns
Lighting Designer Danny Vavrecka
Arranger Ben Richardson
Producer Gigglemug Theatre
Performance Dates February 18th – March 8th 2019, King’s Head Theatre