Sunday, 25 October 2020

REVIEW: A (Socially Distanced) Evening with Patsy May at the Phoenix Arts Club

A room full of adults belly-laughing, totally on-board and absorbing every comical moment of ‘Patsy May’s Socially Distanced Show' was a delight to attend and a huge uplifting celebration of musical theatre, film, travel and looking at the brighter side of life. Proving copious viable skills to any doubters, in a furry ball of pink and blue adult-level humour from 2014’s Britain’s Got Talent finalist, Laura Bacon has produced a precise, manicured and pacy show which fires on all cylinders. Her best work yet!
From the outset, Patsy captivated the room and set the tone for the night ahead. Joined by Lee Van Geleen (Les Miserables, Only Fools and Horses) who had a faultless charisma and chemistry with Patsy, numerous West End-quality vocals landed on an appreciative audience - marred only by Patsy’s mother interrupting the climax of a Sweeney Todd classic, popping up on Skype in a hilarious exchange on the video screen behind them.

Yuriko Kotani (BBC New Comedy Award) provided excellent comical variation involving the audience and adding an interactive element to the evening and felt very much part of the well-rehearsed, slick performance. 

Surprisingly high production values managed to add depth to the performance from pyrotechnics in a spooky Halloween section to synchronised performances with a host of musicians in video content and other puppeteers including Zippy! It has to be noted here the quality video cut-away sequences filmed on location from New York, Paris, Japan and even Suffolk added so much to the fabulous backstory of Patsy from television stardom to her grassroots.

What’s possibly the greatest strength of Laura Bacon’s show is her craftswomanship of the content; we had parody, pastiche, homage, true moments of beauty in both Patsy’s singing and Van Geleen’s vocals mixed with an honest puppet’s-eye view of the world.

I felt moved, exhausted from laughter and witness to a television pilot-level performance aching for someone to pick up and do something amazing with. Laura’s a powerhouse of creativity and Patsy fronted something greater than just a puppet show tonight. The applause was deafening and sustained at the end, and deservedly so.

Review by Justin Williams 

Rating: ★★★★★
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