Reviewed by Rhiannon Templeman-Horton
An 80s Jukebox musical sounded like it would be a great night, so I decided to give ‘Mad On Her’ at the Arts Theatre, a go.
Mad On Her is based on a range of 80s songs, where a man falls desperately in love with a girl on a night out at Lynn’s Bar. His then fiancé Cindi appears to ruin things for Donna, a fashion designer wannabe.
I would say that there are a few tweaks for this show, as it’s their first performance at this location, but after seeing the show, I learnt that they had already done a run on the Fringe and in Manchester, and people have picked up on the same things.
From the very beginning of the show, a lot of things went wrong. A mic was dropped, and although one actor remained in character to pick up the mic and give it back to the one who dropped it, the one who dropped it made it obvious that it was a mistake. The mics were an issue throughout the whole of the first act. I would usually understand this if the actors managed to carry on without the mics and project without breaking character, but this is something they didn’t manage to do. I feel that the mics were an unnecessary prop, and because of the small space, they could have worked without. They relied far too much on having a mic there, that they didn’t have strong enough voices when they weren’t working,
However, Laura Wilson who played Cindi, I would argue, saved the show. After feeling awkward through much of the first act, she came on with a very strong performance. She has an extremely powerful voice, that brought the house down, and although her acting was extremely over the top, it suited the character well and got a lot of laughs from the audience. She played the desperate ex-lover perfectly and added comedy to the show. Phoebe Rose White is also another actress that stood out with her performance. She made some strong acting decisions that made the show feel less awkward and uncomfortable.
The ensemble were all incredible dancers, but a critique I would make against the amount of dance they did is that it drowned out the main characters and made the story within the show a sideline. Also, due to the small space within The Arts Theatre Studio, I was nearly kicked multiple times in the face by one of the dancers, making me feel a little uncomfortable.
Something that added to the uncomfortable feeling I felt during the show, was the performance from James Colebrook as Rikki. He was given some very powerful songs, that he didn’t have a strong enough vocal ability to sing. He also only acted when he had dialogue so that when there was a pause, you are waiting for some action, as you see no response from him. This was similar to Sarah Watson who played the role of Donna, yet she was good at acting when she wasn’t distracted by the mic not working. She has a very strong voice in the higher range, but when she was in the lower end of her range, it sounded like her voice had lost all strength.
The characters were very forgettable, as they didn’t say the character’s names very clearly, so I ended up not knowing who the characters were, and what their relevance was to the show. There was a moment when Phoebe Rose White was singing to comfort Donna, but she was standing on the other side of the stage, barely lit, and this completely took you attention away from her and onto the 3 girls on the other side of the stage that were only sitting on the floor, and trying to comfort Donna. It would’ve been best if she was with the 3 girls on the other side of the stage and lit, to create a connection.