Yank! at Charing Cross Theatre
Deftly marketed as an untold gay love story from World War Two, Yank! lands at Charing Cross Theatre after transferring from the Hope Mill Theatre. Brothers Joseph and David Zellnik scripted and scored this Rodgers and Hammerstein-influenced piece, which, despite the brassy appeal and earnest efforts of its cast, is two-dimensional, Sunday afternoon theatre.
The show’s translation of queer histories into sparkly musical is, in part, drawn from the oral histories of Coming Out Under Fire, a seminal look at the treatment and fates of gay servicemen during wartime. The star-crossed lovers of Yank! are Stu and Mitch – the former a doe-eyed 19-year-old, the latter a plain New Jersey time with matinée idol good looks and charisma. Stu, weak-kneed and butter-fingered during simple training rituals, seizes the chance to escape from his comrades, who have bestowed him the nickname “Light Loafers”, in favour of writing for the eponymous servicemen’s magazine. This forces him to abandon the burgeoning romance with Mitch, until a fateful reunion between the two at end of Act One.
That Yank!’s narrative marks, like its playfully suggestive lyrics, are visible from miles away is not fatal. Indeed, the cast, led by Scott Hunter and Andy Coxson are having a contagiously enjoyable time. It’s a pity, then, that the musical’s songs dissolve so quickly from memory, its melodies verging on the banal, despite the vocal talents of all – especially a scene-stealing turn from Sarah-Louise Young. Similarly, the garish lighting options, including a green light used during Stu’s narrative passages (perhaps intended as an homage to Gatsby’s) has the effect of making him look sea-sick whenever he takes to narration. The camp humour and charming cast will go far enough for some, but Yank!’s plodding characterisation, forgettable numbers and underwhelming design will fail to covert newcomers.
Photo: Claire Bilyard
Yank! is at Charing Cross Theatre from 3rd July until 19th August 2017. For further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Yank! here: