Artisteer

Sheridan Morley Review


The famous flying car is the only reason for seeing this dire and dismal apology for a musical. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has been bolted together from leftover bits of more interesting material - a bit of Mary Poppins here, a little Peter Pan there.
 
 But however terrible was the 1968 film, and believe me it was, nothing could have prepared us for the mind-numbing awfulness of the stage version.
 
 There is nothing funny in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, largely because the director Adrian Noble is to comedy what Shakespeare was to line-dancing.
 
 The spectacular effects here, such as they are, are reminiscent of a Palladium pantomime circa 1955.
 
 T-shirts selling at £17 suggest the Palladium management has thought of everything except talent and a few good tunes.
 
 The show's unfathomable near-finale looks as though it has been conceived by the makers of The Producers.
 
 But in all seriousness there is not a single number in the second half which deserves to have got past rehearsals, let alone as far as a first night.
 
 Thirty years after the original shoddy rip-off, to try once again to get an audience to part with money up front for an unseen show is disgraceful.
 
 Anthony Ward's spectacular sets bear a vast and typically unacknowledged debt to the late Rowland Emmett.
 
 Gillian Lynne's period choreography might have managed to stop the show were there any kind of show to stop. But there isn't, and despite the fact that the £8m in advanced bookings will keep this apology at the Palladium for many months to come, all involved should now hang their heads in shame.
 
 At the end of a review like this you are traditionally expected to acknowledge that the audience was on its feet cheering by the final curtain. Indeed they were, but they had also started to cheer the first bar of the overture and to clap it along.
 
 Recently a musical at the Shaftesbury was forcibly closed by local police for making too much noise. This one should be closed for its failure of taste.

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