A talented cast and potentially interesting premise can’t stop this bum-numbing bore-fest from disappointing on just about every level possible.
In spite of the fact that it is advertised as Punchy – The Musical’ Punchy is NOT a musical. There are songs, dialogues and performers, yet it is not a musical.
I’m only surmising, so the order of some of the events might be a bit askew, but I think this is how the events of the accident probably occurred. You’ll get the general drift.
The songwriter (I hesitate to say composer) Jack Terroni has a whole load of songs he’s written which, according to his blurb in the programme ‘bookend 16 years of my life’.
He comes across a book by Richard Barrett titled ‘What My Soul Told Me’ and comes up with the idea of cobbling it together with his songs to make a piece of theatre.
His mum tells him the story of somebody who used to be her neighbour, so he decides to use that as the basis, and to shoehorn-in the thesis of Barrett’s book (which I’m guessing from the show is something along the lines of ‘be guided by your soul, not you ego, and you’re still there to the people that are left after you’ve gone, in their memories).
However, two into one won’t go, so he gets onboard a playwright, Kevin McMahon (unlike Terroni, tellingly credited in the programme under ‘Creative and Technical Team’ along with lighting, sound, etc.) to cobble together a story.
What this means is that the songs, such as they are, have little or no relation to the narrative, and neither do they reflect on them. I’m not wholly surprised as McMahon doesn’t really seem to be aware of what’s happening with the narrative anyway (he says in the programme that the show is set ‘in the first half of the twentieth century’ but for the events to take place as they do, we must mainly be in the late 1950’s).
The plot is perfunctory (spoiler alert), Punchy chooses wrong girl. Stuff happens. Punchy chooses right girl.
Robert Hook battles hard to give life to the titular George ‘Punchy’ Armstrong, but is defeated by the character being an almost entirely passive doormat who doesn’t sing a thing until nearly half way through Act Two!
James Sygrove gives a thankfully set-chewing performance in the much larger role of Punchy’s Ego, and is technically the protagonist, as his is the character with the character arc and the journey.
The set is cheap and rickety, the direction is bizarre, and the production budget seems to have been spent on the programme and merchandise.
You get the idea.
What about the music, you say? I almost forgot. No, that’s wrong. I did forget. Because the music is forgettable.
So, honestly? This show is a poorly executed vanity project and ego trip for Terroni. I sat through it so you don’t have to.
- Book: Kevin McMahon
- Music & Lyrics: Jack Terroni
- Director: Tiffany King
- Photography: Guido De Maria
- Cast includes: James Sygrove, Robert Hook, Parker Mensah, Lucy Penrose, Philip Gill, Robert Allen, Richie Brett, Fiona Kelly, Amy Rose-Edlyn
- Venue: The Courtyard Theatre, London
- Until: 21st November 2021
- Running time: 2 hours, with 1 x 15 minute interval