As another new musical to hit the scene, Rehab, written by Grant Black, Murray Lachlan Young and Elliot Davis is now playing at The Playground Theatre. When famous singer, Kid Pop, becomes involved in a paparazzi scandal when caught doing drugs, the papers don't hesitate to bring him down. Set in 1999, the 26 year old pop star is at the pinnacle of his career, so a lot is at stake when the court rule the verdict that he should spend the next 60 days in rehab. He thought it'd be a breeze, though quickly realised it might not be such an easy ride.
Beginning with an addictive and humourous song titled 'Wanker', the tone is immediately set for the style of language used during the production. Additionally, this reflects the myriad of questionable humour littered throughout the show, which undoubtably is not to everyone's taste. However, the track is extremely catchy, so you can't help but problematically have it stuck in your head!
First introduced to Kid Pop as he is performing, Jonny Labey's husky tones fit perfectly with his rockstar mystique. The smoke and bright lighting rapidly descend into a courthouse after his criminality is discovered by the press, and fate sealed as he is sent away to rehab. There, we are introduced to a selection of other candidates with their own addictions: to drink, drugs, sex, food and even tanning.
Phil Sealey is branded as 'Phil, the overeater', with Dawn Buckland as his wife; Annabel Giles is 'Bond girl' Jane Killy, and John Barr plays the overly camp Barry Bronze, all of whom are the main patients the audience meet. Additionally, Marion Campbell is a leader at The Glade, with Andy Brady as the judge and officer, and Andrew Patrick-Walker picking up a variety of other roles.
Things escalate for Kid Pop when unknowingly, his manager, tyrannical Malcolm Stone (Keith Allen) and sidekick Beth (Jodie Steele) are determined to bring him down, so send in a vulnerable candidate, and ex-rehab member, looking for a job- Lucy, played by Gloria Onitiri. The cast as a whole articulate their characters fantastically and without fault, each leaving their own talents in the mix. With some reworking of the production, these could be utilised to their full ability.
The complete storyline is perhaps as you'd expect for a piece set in a rehab centre, but elements seem to just not quite hit the bill. With a significant part of the plot surrounding a character being a 'transvestite', and overweight, it might feel a little uncomfortable to watch, as these themes are seen as a joke that could easily be changed for something else in the narrative. However, the cast do make up for this to some degree, as the performance is engaging. Generally, it is hard to decipher the purpose being as to have meaning, or for comedic effect though, as the constant gags (some of which are funny), contrast the slower, more weighty parts, and don't leave much depth in its message.
With many on the track list seeming to follow the typical theatrical formula, it's unsurprising that some are so appealing. Through the vast selection, 'At The Glade' and 'Obsession' initially establish the other members of the group at the facility, with 'Pour Me, Pour Me Another One' adding to the swirl of methods of coping with the situation. Gloria Onitiri has several solo pieces throughout the show, and demonstrates these beautifully, as well as alongside Jonny Labey in their notable ballad, 'Two Broken People'. Keith Allen's eccentric character (and awfully obvious wig) has a naturally funny persona, while Jodie Steele consistently makes valuable contributions throughout the show, with mastered vocals and perfect depiction at every turn.
Choreography and direction by Gary Lloyd have moments of success, and 'Everyone's Taking Cocaine' is an interesting showing of this. It simply can't get more random than a song dedicated to cheese, which also does make an appearance. Concluding with 'Just For Today', the musical comes to a close with a neat ending for the leading roles.
Overall, Rehab certainly has a talented cast, and several admirable tracks, but lacks in other areas. It seems to be a bit of a 'marmite' show, so there's still a chance you could love it!