I Can’t Sing at the London Palladium
Enter Simon Cowell and the X Factor. A show that proclaims it aims to give unknown musical talent a portal to a pop career. Or is it merely another means for this super-rich, media mogul to puff up his already-rather-inflated wallet and ego? Is it really a self-sacrificing show, a philanthropic means of propelling talent into fame and fortune, or self-seeking? It certainly takes a degree of commercial genius to realise the virtues of tapping into a financially vulnerable, fame-hungry market. So, should we celebrate the X Factor, or mourn it profusely for preying on the hopes and dreams of the gifted, desperate and downright misguided? And then comes along Harry Hill. A comedian, super-talented in spoof and the utter zany. And with him I Can’t Sing, an equally barmy musical that seems a send-up of all those associated with Cowell’s global giant of a show and celebrate it all in the same breath.
A would-be astrobiologist and living in a caravan under a flyover with her grandfather in an iron lung, Chenice (Cynthia Erivo) is the natural, sweet protagonist – the unassuming one with the hidden talent and a backstory to beat all backstories. With a little encouragement from her adoring beau, Max the plumber, Chenice enters the X Factor competition upon finding a stray ticket, which actually belongs to an Eminem-style rapping, rope-swinging, Quasimodo character, whose satirical tear-jerking backstory is all about his hunchback – of course! Other contestants include a Wagner lookalike, Jedward spinoffs and their Riverdancing leprechauns, and Max. How will Chenice and Max survive the Machiavellian tactics backstage?
Bizarrely, Hill and composer Steve Brown, are not shy of mocking showbiz narcissism or the talent show phenomenon. In the song Please Simon, they have Nigel Harman, whose performance of egotistical Cowell is hysterically spot-on, descend on a cloud, God-like, to a crowd of auditionees all vying for his attention, pleading “Please Simon, make me rich”, “Please Simon, I won’t give up, I’ll keep trying, every single member of my family is dying!” Alarmingly, tongue-in-cheek, accurate.
The show is full of belly laughs. Simon Bailey as Liam O’Deary just “wants to hug everyone”, mimicking with an uncanny resemblance X Factor show host Dermot O’Leary, and Jordy (Victorial Elliot) typifies the Geordie “lovie, pet” Cheryl Cole. And, in spite of the fact that I Can’t Sing can’t seem to make up its mind about whether it wants to condemn the X Factor or applause it, the show is worth a look-in, if not for the relentless lampooning but for Erivo’s soaring vocals, a talent worthy of showing.
I Can’t Sing is on at the London Palladium until 25th October 2014. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.
Watch the trailer for I Can’t Sing here: