(Seen at the preview performance on 2nd June 2015)
This is a gutsy, loveable and heartwarming little show. Every bit as likeable as
the original film, with a little added Sikh spice for flavour.
It’s well worth Googling the religion – particularly marriage and wedding
customs – beforehand, in order to get the most out of it; a real crash-course in
the faith, the more you know, the more you’ll gain.
For you will want to know
the Bhamras as well as you can. Mr Bhamra (Tony Jayawardena) is straight out of
“Fiddler On The Roof.” Troublesome daughters, a wife firmly in charge – and a
wicked sense of humour (his appearance at an engagement celebration with future
son in-law Teetu’s Dad [Irvine Iqbal] is almost worth a ticket on its own).
Every situation the family have faced and are facing are ones any family of any
faith, and any immigrant of any nationality, will relate to, and that is the
central strength of the story.
Their football mad wayward daughter Jess (Natalie Dew) is a star turn, her
struggle real and her voice sweet. Beautiful (in all senses) elder sister Pinky
(Preeya Kalidas) also notches up another fine performance, with her own
hilarious star turn too.
As friend Jules, Lauren Samuels gets a neat running joke with her mother
Paula (Sophie-Louise Dann), who in turn has a fine solo in act two. Coach Joe,
(Jamie Campbell Bower) also deserves a nod for making the most of a tiny yet
The set is a terrific blend of stadium and high street, the girls’ bedrooms
coming into view like TV “live action replay” insert boxes, and the Bhamra home
is also niftily done.
This is, though, a musical, and it’s a mixture of Western and Eastern in both
song and dance. As suggested by the fact the song list when the monkey attended
was a paper insert rather than programme page, its obvious the material is still
Some over-long dance sequences – and one less than well thought out (did
nobody think to simply mirror traditional Sikh wedding dance moves with football
player motion in a ballet style?) needed work... and there’s a fair amount of
repetition of some not very memorable music.
“Girl Perfect” is the anthem, slightly lost, and “Just A Game / Fly” the
dream sequence close to act 1 doesn’t gel. A song called “Bend It” also gets a
prize for ill-considered ‘double entendre;’ but all is forgiven on two counts.
“Look At Us Now” is a fabulous hymn to immigration, and the use of traditional
Sikh wedding music is perfect.
Packed with small surprises (Victoria, who knew!) and neat lines, if the show
doesn’t have quite the pace it needs at times, nor the inspiration to lift it
out of the realms of the “not quite a must-see classic,” it’s a trier and
certainly worth a visit before many other mediocrities in the West End. Deserves
3 points and extra time, the monkey feels.