Loserville – Union Theatre

loserville

Loserville at the Union Theatre, London. Picture: Darren Bell

Loserville continues at the Union Theatre, London until 20 December.

Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩

It’s 1971. High school students are looking for a way out of their quiet American town – dubbed Loserville – to a brighter more exciting future. For some, the future clearly lies with computers and the development of email which is a major plot line. For one, who seems to be privileged, there’s an unexpected parental bombshell. And nearly everyone wants boy/girl relationships but gaucheness and angst make them difficult. The piece, by Elliot Davis and James Bourne, is both original and traditional in mood.

It’s a gently entertaining evening lit up by a powerful performance from Shane Gibb as the troubled Lucas who becomes a sort of Judas figure but eventually retrieves himself. Joshua Wyatt gives a pleasing account of Michael, the geeky nerd who is on the cusp of a major discovery but he needs help from Holly-Anne Hull’s attractively clever Holly who eventually cracks the problem. James Sinclair is suitably nasty, manipulative and self-serving as Eddie whose attempt to blackmail Holly and cheat Michael fails – which allows us a happy ending.

Director Michael Burgen has managed to coax some very naturalistic, unforced acting out of his young cast and that’s a notable strength. And the busy graffiti-based set (no designer is credited in the programme, sadly) works well along with coloured boxes which become almost everything else the narrative requires.

But it’s the vibrant, energetic ensemble work, choreographed by Matt Krzan which really makes this show hum along. It’s delightfully slick and sharp. And the use of off stage chorus – mostly behind the audience – makes the experience feel very immersive. It’s a surprisingly big company for a small Fringe theatre too. Nineteen performers are involved – 11 principals and eight in the ensemble. So it’s a show which punches quite successfully above its weight, well supported by the three-piece band.

Susan Elkin

www.uniontheatre.biz

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