REVIEW: All The Fun of the Fair starring David Essex – King’s Theatre Glasgow, 3rd March 2012

Inspired by David Essex’s album ‘All The Fun Of The Fair’, Essex plays fun fair owner Levi Lee, recently widowed and father of a rebellious teenage son.

Danger and mysticism lurk in the future, as predicted by the gypsy fortune teller who is in love with Levi.

Set in the 70’s it has dodgems and motorbikes, crafty cons and candy floss, fairground horses and fights, along with some romance and rock and roll, but beware… it’s not always fun at the fair and heartbreak lurks around the corner.

This was like entering a reunion of the David Essex fan club circa 1976. The audience comprised mainly women of a certain age – all massive Essex fans!! and the cries of “I love you David!” punctuated the show at in-opportune moments.

Now, Essex has a lot of personal charm and it’s this, rather than a compelling storyline that carries this piece. There are snippets of all of Essex’s most beloved hits and to the disappointment of some of the audience they were sung by the rest of the cast rather than Essex himself. The supporting cast were competent enough – if lacking a bit of sparkle and a few inconsistent accents and over-acting made it a bit less convincing than it could have been.

Though Tim Newman (above) as Johnny showed a few glimpses of what a great voice he might have lurking under the confines of the caricature voice his role required and David Burrows had a strong voice and did a mean impersonation of Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt in his role as Harvey.

The real star for me was the fantastic set. It twinkled and glowed and really evoked the feel of the fairground. There were dodgems, carousel horses, shoot-em-ups, candy floss sellers and an impressive motorbike flying out into the auditorium for good measure! Special mention must go to the lighting designer for creating such a warm atmosphere.

Instead of your usual jukebox musical this was a brave attempt to do something different – it had both humour (if a bit corny) and tragedy, and despite its shortcomings it is an entertaining few hours, and if you love Mr. Essex you’ll love it.