Review: All The Fun of The Fair at Theatre Royal

Based on a book by Jon Conway ‘All The Fun of The Fair’ is a musical that quite literally takes you on a startling rollercoaster ride, full of bright lights, elaborate set design and synchronised musical numbers. The musical heavily promotes David Essex as lead character ‘Levi’ and tells the tale of the hidden secrets and troubles behind a Fairground Family of workers.

The opening to the play set the scene as audiences took their seats. We were introduced to a hologram of the ‘Wall of Death’ ride and the background music of fun fair rides accompanied by stereotypical childish screams. The ‘Wall of Death’ was in reference to a Fun Fair motorbike attraction that caused the character Levi’s wife to pass and the build to the play was based around recreating the act for money towards the failing fair. Essex played his character well, engaging in audience communication and often finding times to come out of the role to give a cheeky glance towards the audience who all seemed to be adoring fans. At this point, I realised that the majority of the theatre crowd were over 50 years old and were fully satisfied with Essex’s multiple solo numbers such as ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ and whistled at the slightest sexual innuendo’s. It was clear that Essex was in his element maintaining a strong performance and lavishing the female attention.

Rob Compton played the role of Levi’s son, a cheeky chap who like all boys is rebellious and dreams of bigger things. His performance was eye catching but also sceptical at some points. He added humour to the production as he declared his love for multiple women and Compton also withheld an exceptional London cockney accent throughout the musical. I then realised the struggles of the cockney accent as the musical numbers began to take place. It was clear that the background music and vocals were being utilised to hide the struggles of having to sing with it, giving the impression that Compton had weak vocals. This proved untrue by the end of the play in the musical number ‘Silver Dream Machine’.

Levi’s apparent love interest, Fortune Teller Rosa, was brilliantly displayed by Louise English. As the first character we are introduced to, she gives a dramatic opening in her number ‘A Winter’s Tale’. Her voice echoed through the theatre creating a chilling atmosphere that made even me captivated by her distinct tone. Her relationships with the other characters were clear by her constant looks and glares even when she wasn’t centre stage. I was impressed by her dedication to the single mother gypsy role.

The character that really stole the show was Johnny played exceptionally by ‘Tim Newman’. The audience were clearly in agreement as the standing ovation was initiated by his presence. He added wit and entertainment as he fulfilled the role of a mentally disabled orphan working at the fair. His voice was the best by far and I am sure that his clear vibrato could be heard even from outside the theatre particularly in the number ‘Make you a star’. His mannerisms and stage movements were impeccable and I believe that without him the show would have lacked a certain ‘lift’.

The main villain was performed by David Burrows who caused a rather pantomimic ‘boo’ as he took his bow at the end of the production. He played the character of Harvey whose daughter was in a relationship with Jack to his dismay. He created a few laughs by presenting the stereotypical father figure stating “I am just a hotel, a taxi service and a bank as far as your concerned!” His performance was specifically realistic during the duet with his daughter Alice ‘Stay, Young And Free’ as he belted out his lyrics in relation to his raging mood.

All the Fun of the Fair is a great fun filled musical with plenty of laughs and surprises. With the songs all written by David Essex, I suggest that it would be a great evening out with your Nan or Mother but also works as a great family trip. The set is spectacular and the dance numbers are synchronised to perfection. Watch out for the number ‘Here We Are Together’ in the first act as the set is mind blowing. Though I would not recommend watching it twice, if you like a bit of toe tapping, bright lights, fairground fun and most importantly David Essex this is the musical for you.

 

Nicole Samkange