Lyric Theatre Hammersmith at the Hop Poles Pub. February 2010
Cartoon de Salvo, a theatre company who sometimes moonlight as the pub band One Trick Pony, have put together a theatre piece about a pub band called One Trick Pony, performed in the upper room of a pub across the street from the Lyric Theatre.
After being led from the Lyric lobby and past an overzealous bouncer (who I am certain was not part of the show), we find our drinks and seats in the cramped room and, after 25 minutes of the band tuning up, listen to a typical pub band set - Mustang Sally, We Are Family, Brown Sugar, etc.
At about the point that we might begin feeling nostalgic for Thursday nights at the student union bar, a bit of plot emerges, with intra-band tensions generated by the lead guitarist's boredom with the over-familiar repertoire and desire to play his own compositions.
'This band is no place for original material,' says the keyboardist in one of the better jokes, as the rest of the show is devoted, in between more songs, to the fallout from the rebel's decision to quit.
In short, the only plot about a pub band that the company could come up with is the one you might have thought of first and rejected as too obvious, and the level of dramaturgy can be gauged by their dependence on an offstage scene conveniently played in front of a live microphone (and why would there be a live offstage mic at a pub gig?) and by some gags involving the predictably dim drummer.
The four writer/performer/musicians - Neil Haigh, Tai Lawrence, Brian Logan and Alex Murdoch - capture the right level of adequacy as a band but are somewhat less convincing as characters, and the evening might best be appreciated as many in the audience did, as just a pub band gig with some jokes and histrionics attached, a background to generally uninterrupted drinking, chatting and flirting.
As with most site-specific theatre, very little seems to have been gained by the setting, and the piece might actually have been more successful - better seats, better sightlines, better acoustics, but then again no liquor - in the Lyric Studio.
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