Showstopper! – Review – York Theatre Royal
By Roger Crow, April 2022
I doubt it’s the first time THOSE parties at No 10 have been suggested for a musical, or that the hypocrisy of all those months of us “doing what they said rather than what they did” will be a topic for a jazz hands, foot-tapping spectacular. But I do know that after far too long, it’s an absolute joy to be in the presence of Pippa Evans and the Showstopper’s! team once more.
It’s my third trip to see them, and after a week of isolating because of you know what, on a perfect spring night, they provide West End-quality entertainment with more laughs per minute than Airplane! (The gold standard for any comedy experience).
Improv is such a beautiful art form. The off-the-cuff energy is the most vital form of theatre, and given the calibre of the songs this evening, pretty much the whole show could have been adapted on the spot for a stint on any stage, every night.
The Theatre Royal is packed with folks all desperate for a laugh and a break from the nightmare news, and the team do not disappoint.
Yes, there is the odd moment when things go a little awry or the odd line doesn’t quite work, but all of the team are like a collective Gromit putting that track down in front of the ‘show train’, and the show, as we know, must go on.
And regardless of whether the track is a perfect fit or not, that train keeps going, thundering forwards while we lucky theatre-goers fuel it with laughs, cheers, clapping, groans over cheese puns, you name it. Edam it’s good. (Don’t get me started on cheese puns. That one’s just the tip of the Jarlsberg).
Everyone is pushing that show forward through the sheer joy of the experience.
Ms Evans (a national treasure – there, I said it), Andrew Pugsley (outstanding as the PM), and the rest of the insanely talented team have turned improv into an art form so beautiful to watch, they could probably read the phone book and it would make for a fun night out.
There’s inevitably a song in the style of Hamilton (which I guessed in advance, but is no less welcome), and Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, and recurring references which get funnier the more they’re used.
And the audience participation is everything, from the show title, We Let You Downing Street (genius), to the random suggestions throughout. Weaving in the idea of a bouncy castle at No 10 was inspired, and the beauty is there are no spoilers here about any of the refs because each show is different.
If you’ve never seen Showstopper!, do yourself a favour and track down the next available performance. Like that ear worm of a track from Hamilton, you’ll be back.