Five girls coming of age in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ to a soundtrack of hits from the generation that created pop music, is Shout! The Mod Musical in a nutshell.
In an era when man conquered the moon, the pill was widely available, women were becoming liberated and the belief that there was suddenly a classless society, these ordinary girls find that while England claims to be swinging – things ain’t what they seem to be. Seeking guidance through this maelstrom, they write to Shout magazine’s agony aunt Gwendolyn Holmes for some sage advice. Unfortunately Ms. Holmes cure for all ills is the philosophy that women’s sole ambition is to be a wife and mother with perfect hair and an immaculate manicure.
The book writers Phillip George and David Lowenstein have pulled off an impressive feat in getting paid to write an almost invisible script. What really elevates this piece of fluff into a joyous celebration of girl power is its knock-out soundtrack and stunning cast. Who wouldn’t want to hear “Son of a Preacher Man”, “I Just Don’t Know What to do With Myself”, “Downtown” and the raucous title track sung gloriously by a quintet of stupendously talented actors? Their harmonies are particularly impressive and a delight to the ear.
Whilst it appears to be pure fluff, it does a helluva good job of highlighting the iniquities of being a woman in the 60’s through songs and laughter (domestic violence is even touched upon). It is terrifying to think that what was perfectly acceptable then is truly frightening now. There are particularly hilarious interludes about asbestos dresses “ooh, it makes me all tingly”, the side-effects of the pill, Paul McCartney’s impending nuptials and wearing the latest fashions: “I’m so chic, so trendy and so crippled” to look out for.
The whole thing tears along at break-neck speed in a riot of rainbow colours and the hits just keep on coming. This is a well-oiled machine and the chemistry created among the cast and their commitment to their roles absolutely shines through.
This is just a joyous celebration of womanhood and the music that set Britain on the world map.
Worth mentioning too from this production of ex-students from the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, is the tribute to 60’s icon and Liverpool lass Cilla Black in the pre-show music – a nice touch.
Runs until 30 August 2015
This review was originally published at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/shout-the-mod-musical-momentum-playhouse-st-stephens-edinburgh/