|Barbershopera: The Three Musketeers|
|Published on Monday, 27 August 2012|
After a break last year from Edinburgh, Barbershopera are back. I have been at the Fringe ever year they have, and seen every one of their shows – and over that time I’ve seen them develop a loyal fan base, be broadcast on Radio 4, and have a successful run in London. They were even available on the entertainment system on my last trans-Atlantic flight!
As in the original self-titled Barbershopera, Lara Stubbs finds herself as a woman in a man's world, as the team delightfully romp through Dumas' classic – with tongue firmly in cheek. Expect lots of cross-dressing, silly French accents (subversively though, that’s how the English characters sound – the French speak with perfect Received Pronunciation), larger-than-life royalty, as well as a few nods to popular culture. But holding together all the camp comedy is one of their signature scripts, stuffed with wonderfully witty wordplay, ridiculous rhymes, ludicrous lyrics, innocuous innuendos and absurd alliteration. Blink and you will miss the first joke of the show.
Musically, Stubbs is still the standout singer. As a mezzo soprano, her voice has always been the unique charm of Barbershopera. This year, the team find themselves in the bigger, more resonant venue of Pleasance Two, and what they lose in intimacy Stubbs more than makes up for in the big finale. I am also incredibly pleased to report that Rob Castell's voice has mellowed into a fine baritone, anchoring the quartet with that all-important strong bass the team has previously always been lacking.
But like their show two years ago, some fans of the original Barbershopera may feel there just aren’t enough songs. Once again, there quite a number of fairly conventional comic sketches that are spoken the whole way through. It seems the show has become less about the music, more about the comedy. Admittedly the comedy is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, but it is still a shame that they’re losing what made this group stand out on the Fringe: a cappella musical theatre. Their harmonies are so well-tuned, I just want more.
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FROM OUR ARCHIVES
These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012. We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.