REVIEW: Edinburgh Fringe – Active Virgin, C Venue C

Book, Music and Lyrics: John Keilty & Gerry Kielty

Director: Susie Dumbreck

Musical Director: Andrea Grody

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★☆☆☆

This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews.

The Cameron Mackintosh Highland Quest for New Musical winners the Kielty brothers and One Academy Productions bring Active Virgin to Edinburgh for its premier, and in many ways this reviewer wishes they hadn’t bothered. Following on the heels of the highly-lauded Wasted Love this piece seems to suffer from serious lack of effort on the part of the hugely praised writers.

The story tracks the quest for the body beautiful and the obsession it has become for the 247GYM members. They are beginning to lose track of what’s really important in life – but will the madness stop before it’s too late?

Again the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland deliver the most accomplished of vocal performances but the acting was straying wildly into hammy territory. The blame though can be put squarely in the lap of the writing. As well as being musically uninspired, with too many ensemble pieces, it felt like a step back in time as far as originality. It is a series of disjointed vignettes rather than a cohesive piece and it needs a clear thread to string it together. We are treated to Botox; plastic surgery, steroids, self-hate and serious amounts of misogyny with few of the advertised laughs, and the uncomfortably forced jokes soon wear thin.

Ultimately all this show is trying to say is that the search for perfection is impossible but it takes an hour to tell it, and with little variation it makes you wish the minutes away.

If this is your first experience of One Academy or the Royal Conservatoire then don’t let this put you off, they’ve been let down by their choice of material rather than their abilities. Save your money and go and see one of their other shows: Company or Towards The Moon.

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