A part of the Brainbox project, and Cabaret Soiree Carnivale, Tomfoolery is a celebration of all that is ... err ... Well, is a revue of Tom Lehrer's more - ah - memorable works.
For those of you who have not experienced Mr Lehrer's work in the past, and are wondering about the hesitations in my introduction to this review of the evening's performance, I encourage you to consider the following comment from a review in the New York Times of his live performances: "Mr. Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste." A comment that he treasures to this day.
Enough, however, of the background, let us move on to the evenings entertainment.
Doors open about 90 minutes before the performance to give the audience time to order an consume a light meal (with gluten-free options if you warn them!), and to get settled into their cabaret seating. You are then thrust bodily into the mind of Tom Lehrer with little warning, and certainly no time to build up any sort of mental defenses.
The show opens with some of Tom's more infamous introductory lines, and leaps into a somewhat twisted view of the Boy Scouts of America, thus setting the tone for the evening. I shall not spend any time actually talking about the songs, or the commentary that was masterfully delivered by Andrew Williams - to do so would be to rehash many other far more skilled reviews of Mr Lehrer's work.
Instead, I want to talk about the performances, all of which were memorable and energetic. From the snide and sarcastic commentary by Andrew, who took Tom's lines and made them his own, gently leading the audience into the sickly twisted world that Tom was so fond of portraying, and then quietly stepping back to point at them and ask "What on earth are you doing there?", to the sweet and demented Irish Ballad sung by Louisa Fitzhardinge, the cast was always enthusiastic and engaging.
Notable highlights for me included the charming and romantic duet by Izaak Lim and Louisa, which I am certain will be an inspiration to us all for the coming spring. Izaak continued to amaze with a rousing and highly theatrical presentation of The Elements, while Nick Maclaine turned When You Are Old and Grey into a seedy Italian Cafe serenade. Nick's association with sleeze continued throughout the night, bringing memorable performances to such classics as I Got it from Agnes, Smut, and The Masochism Tango.
Izaak maintained his scientific bent with Lobochevski, which came complete with an in-air map of the relative placement of many cities of the former USSR. Meanwhile, Clint Strindberg played the part of the somewhat hapless, but determinedly faithful, partner of a decidedly regrettable young lady (She's My Girl), and the mildly regretfully mourning, but murderous, lover in I Hold Your Hand In Mine, bringing deep passion (for very different reasons) to both parts. He really shone, however, as the tortured soul in Selling Out.
Oedipus Rex, sung by a very single-entendre minded Louisa drew a lot of applause, but it was in The Irish Ballad that she made her mark, gradually becoming as demented as the subject of the song. There were also a number of ensemble pieces, with The Vatican Rag and We Will All Go Together When We Go being particularly memorable.
For the purists, be prepared for occasional diversions from Tom's original works - Clementine, for example is re-rendered into a number of other alternate styles, and there is a particularly clever line-change in Who's Next.
Throughout Tim Cunniffe performs masterfully on piano, and gets nowhere near as much attention as he deserves.
The show runs for 80 minutes, including a 20 minute intermission. Tickets are available through BOCS, and the show runs to the 21st of August 2010. Doors open at 6pmish for a 7:30pm start.
9/10 and hiding a naughty magazine inside your maths book in class on the Sid and Nancy scale.