15 September 2015 (gig)
20 September 2015
It’s probably best not to concentrate too much on the source material for this musical version of Kinky Boots (It’s based on a film, itself based on a BBC documentary) as it arrives in London with armfuls of awards and huge expectations. The three are quite different and best taken on their own merits.
Set in the main in a shoe factory in Northampton the story revolves around Charlie Price (Killian Donnelly) inheriting his father’s shoe factory. The factory however is failing and Price has some hard decisions to make. A chance meeting with drag queen Lola (Matt Henry) triggers his imagination and is the point his life when he - and the show - really go into overdrive.
With songs by Cyndi Lauper the attention is squarely going to be on the music. By and large they drive the story forward effectively though only a couple really stick in the mind - The History of Wrong Guys featuring Amy Lennox and What a Woman Wants. There’s a very AOR sheen to some songs, and while never boring, just don’t quite hit the mark. Slow growers maybe but time will tell.
It’s the set pieces with Lola, the very acrobatic Angels and the ensemble that linger in the memory – rather than the solo spots - as does Matt Henry’s performance. He manages to strike the right balance between the Lola’s flamboyance and vulnerabilities. And there’s a pathos as the two leads share memories of their fathers’ expectations for them. The show does touch on equality, family and relationships but writer Harvey Fierstein doesn’t overplay these elements and are subtly handled.
The production is slick and no nonsense with the central rotating pillar effectively changing the stage from factory, to drag club to boxing ring. Nothing really special but it all helps contribute to a colourful evening's entertainment, that it is just really good fun.
Photograph courtesy of Matt Crocket.