Molly Wobbly at the Leicester Square
Jemma (Cassie Compton), Ruth (Stephanie Fearon) and Margaret (Jane Milligan) are the dissatisfied wives of Mammary Lane, in small town Little Happening. They are jolted out of their daily doldrums by the arrival of a mysterious stranger (Russell Morton) – a eclectic man who answers to “Ithanku” and seems to have a penchant for makeovers. Or, rather, hypnotising women and then spiking their drinks with a drug that apparently makes them want to get their tops off and their breasts enhanced. Before you can say “schoolboy fantasy”, the trio are clamouring for new boobs while their befuddled husbands are stuck in the awful position of trying to get their wives to put their clothes back on.
The ludicrously thin plot might pass for a mediocre Monty Python sketch, but Paul Boyd draws it out into a tedious 90-minute musical in which the most risqué elements are women dancing in their bras and men in assless chaps. The musical farce may be a notoriously difficult genre to master, but international hits like Jerry Springer: The Opera have proved that it can be done, if one is willing to take risks with the subject matter.
Molly Wobbly seems determined not to. The first act is a paint-by-numbers exercise, with a slow-moving plot and no real character development. When we return for act two to discover the Mammary Lane wives post-surgery and sipping cocktails with Ithanku’s assistant, Kitten (Alan Richardson), it’s a relief just to have a new two-dimensional character onstage. The cast all provide spirited performances but are sorely hampered by a lacklustre script and songs so similarly structured that they eventually meld into one forgettable set of clichés.
A reincarnation of Boyd’s mini musical Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory, the show was commissioned by the Lyric Players Theatre in 2011 and ran at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe – easily the ideal arena for it, so quite where it wants to go now is a mystery. In an era of funding cuts, theatres may risk losing audiences if they start sacrificing quality for cheap laughs.
Molly Wobbly is on at the Leicester Square Theatre until 14th March 2015, for further information or to book visit here.