Sunday, 2 September 2018

REVIEW: Guy: The Musical at The King's Head Theatre

Musical Theatre is constantly changing and it does so by doing what it has always done; assimilate different art forms and cultures. Right now on the West End we have one of these shows raking it in - Hamilton and adding to the collection of evolved and innovative musicals is Guy: The Musical which utilises an EDM soundtrack infused with musical theatre song writing. 

EDM is a repetitive music style used primarily in club culture so my main wondering is if it has the variation and vulnerability required for a musical. There is a dichotomous clash between the watered down EDM styling and the musical writing which is interesting however seems out of place - I’m sure they said the same about Hip-Hop and Hamilton. 

Guy: A New Musical is here with a topic that is quite dear to me - Body image in the gay community. It’s based in Manchester an revolves around a guy who is a chubby man trying to find love using a famous gay dating app (Grindr) and being rejected over and over again. It explores perception and acceptance, well lack there of towards Guy as a larger gentlemen. Touching upon the issue that on dating apps people feel they can excuse their own bigotry in favour of brevity and relinquish any responsibility of their statements by it not being a face to face communiqué.

Although Guy: The Musical touches upon it, it doesn’t really show a solution to it. 

Brendan Matthew (Guy) carries the weight of this show very well. His voice is beautiful and really great to listen to. The struggle is real for this chubby, graphic designer and Matthews portrays this very well. Though I do feel as if the story lets this part down slightly. Guy is made into a Disney Princess in his search for love and in turn, like most Disney princesses is his own worst enemy by making choices that really don’t help him, The fact that he was fat and feminine made the piece rely on the Disney princess zeitgeist where he ultimately found value by being loved by a man (have we not been trying to change this in structure for a while now?).

His journey to find confidence happens too quickly for me. Guy is trying to find acceptance in a world that rejects him and I can’t help feeling that if Guy found the right community he wouldn’t be so alone; a circle happily fits into a circle shaped hole. 

The cast around him play different stereotypes found on dating apps so well, highlighting the negative aspects to a characiture level and it’s really funny. Adam Braidley and Steve Banks bounce between bigoted Personal trainer, Dom (Braidley) and supportive best friend, Tyler (Banks) on Guy’s journey. He meets Aziz Seann Miley-Moore and the relationship between them blossoms well but like all relationships there are a few bumps along the way. Listening to Miley-Moore is lovely, his voice takes you away from the hot King’s Head Auditorium. 

The storyline is basic and very predictable feeling like it’s plucked out of a
coming of age film. 

There is one piece of dialogue in the show after a very moving contemporary/ EDM dream ballet sequence that sees Guy sink into a hole of compulsive eating and depression. The worst thing is that it’s only touched upon; if they had used this to be the device that ran through the show it would have been a lot more touching and personable and not so fluffy. 

Guy: The Musical is trying something musically which is innovative and really fun. Is it pushing the genre? No, but it is opening up another avenue for others to explore. It’s a great night out and a good exploration of issues that other piece have dissected and exposed. 

If it does return to London you should definitely see it as I believe it’s about the pave the way to something that moves the genre. 

Review by Samuel Clemens

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Unallocated | Price of ticket: £16
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