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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Finborough Theatre Spring 2013

There is a formula to the small-scale two-character song cycle musical, which Paul Scott Goodman (book and songs) and Miriam Gordon (book) follow comfortably in Rooms boy and girl meet cute, surprise themselves by falling in love, surprise themselves even more by splitting up, are separately unhappy, and either get together again or don't. 

This version is set in the pop music world of the late 1970s, which is to say Punk, though there are also pastiches of bubblegum pop, Lloyd-Webberish power ballads and even cod Scottish folk. 

The couple meet because the middle-class Jewish Glaswegian girl searches out the dole-class Catholic boy to provide music for the song she has to sing at a bat mitzvah ('Scottish Jewish Princess'), and before you can say bubblegum they've gone to London, joined the punk scene, had a number one hit and are on their way to New York to conquer CBGBs. 

She is endlessly ambitious but he just wants to sit in his room and make music (or, failing that, follow his father into alcoholism), so happiness cannot last, at least not in its first form. 

As directed by Andrew Keates, Cassidy Janson brings to the girl all the raw energy and appealing underlying innocence of the self-styled rock chick who is really just a nice Jewish girl at the core, while Alexis Gerred warmly anchors the play with his ordinary guy who just wants the girl and the music.

Although Goodman's book songs are generally serviceable and one, 'Steps', is inventively reprised to fit different dramatic situations, they're really the weakest part of the score. The pastiches are clever, but it is the hard-rocking punk songs that have the most energy. 

Indeed, with driving rock music, generally incomprehensible lyrics, a sexy girl and an attractive guy, Rooms provides at its best moments all you could expect and want from a rock musical.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -  Rooms - Finborough Theatre  2013

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