Tuesday 2 May 2023

Stage: Flying the flag

Eurovision (Your Decision)
written and directed by Tim McArthur
with Lucy Penrose, Tim McArthur, Leigh Pollard, Steven Serlin
also Ben Watson, Leanne Jones, Maisie Sellwood, David McMullan
Wonderville, London • 29.Apr-13.May.23

Above the Stag's Eurovision (Your Decision) returns for a third triumphant year, which after the theatre's sudden closure last summer has relocated to Wonderville in the West End, as well as travelling to Brighton and this year's Eurovision host city Liverpool. It feels more confident this year, avoiding the more broadly comical numbers for more polished performances that are still blissfully ridiculous. These are sharply observed pastiche recreations of memorable songs over past decades, designed to keep the audience laughing, cheering and singing along with the up-for-it cast.

Our fabulous hosts Katie and Demetrius (Lucy Penrose and Tim McArthur) are back to lead us through a series of 15 songs that are in the running for the top prize. More than half of the numbers are new this year, including appearances from Irish legend Johnny Logan (1987 winner Hold Me Now) and Celine Dion (Switzerland's 1988 winner Ne Partez Sans Moi). We also now get to enjoy Serbia's bonkers 2022 entry In Corpore Sano, which is performed in its original Latin. 

Thankfully, the wacky Ukrainian entry Dancing Lasha Tumbai (2007) and Iceland's superb Think About Things (from the cancelled 2021 competition) are still in the running order, as are UK favourites Making Your Mind Up (1981's winner) and Flying the Flag (2007), plus an appearance from a rather hairy Sonia with the power ballad Better the Devil You Know (1993). 

Once again, a superstar guest performer arrives after the interval to belt out a couple of big numbers (Hairspray star Lizzie Bea brought the house down on press night) before the riotously silly international jury dials in with their selections, which are combined with an audience vote to declare a winner. The show is superbly written and choreographed, packed with rude innuendo, camp comedy and knowing nods to Eurovision's singular blend of outrageous musicality. 

This show is hugely physical, featuring a riot of corny wigs and costumes as the four cast members incarnate dozens of characters each in elaborately staged musical numbers. Penrose, McArthur, Leigh Pollard and Steven Serlin are gifted musicians who are unafraid to make idiots of themselves on-stage (other performers will appear throughout the run). Each has spotless comical timing that makes everything feel fresh, even as they are also in on the joke. But it's the power of the music, presented with such a skilful blend of respect and satire, that gets us on our feet.

Review of the May 2022 production: EUROVISION (YOUR DECISION?) >

Also at Floral Pavilion, Liverpool 5-6.May.23, and at Ironworks, Brighton 10-11.May.23. For information, visit ABOVE THE STAG > 

Photos by PBG Studios • 30.Apr.23

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