The 24 Hour Musical

Notes on A Scandal: IMOGEN PHILLIPS reviews a night of madness, music and muggles.

24 Hour Musical ADC Musical Theatre

ADC Theatre, 11PM, January 17th, £7/6

It’s hard to know how to critique a 24 hour production, since most of its faults are pretty justified by the fact it was written, composed and learnt in the time it took me to go to a couple of lectures, go out for coffee and eat three meals. But even without this caveat, the score, vocals and, above all, levels of fun, would have been impressive in any normal Cambridge production.

The opening song introduced the theme of the whole song series, “Scandal”, which had been given to the composers and writers at 10pm the night before. It was fairly underwhelming, as most of the cast were apparently reading the words from behind newspapers, clipboards or phones. But at least we got to see someone on the toilet, and once things moved on to the individual numbers, we were on to a winner.

so so so scandalous

so so so scandalous

Lauren Hutchinson’s opening tale of a scandalous small-town pregnancy (written by Phil Arathoon and Ryan Howard) was astonishingly well –performed, if depressing, so Jonathan Beilby and Paul Adeyefa used racism, family secrets, corruption, and amnesia, (and amnesia, and amnesia), to cheer us all up. Honestly. Other high points were Mary, the overlooked librarian who liberates herself and her bouncing bosom every night among the copies of Fifty Shades of Grey (a recurring feature of the play), faultlessly rendered by Lily Grieve, and the erupting top notes of Eavan Prenter’s lament, “why won’t my breast implants explode?”.

The show stopper, however, was the scandal of “A Muggle on the Hogwarts Express”, which combined a fantastic reincarnation of Maggie Smith’s Professor McGonagall, with joyful farce and enough quotes, musical and otherwise, of the books and films to satisfy even the most hardcore Harry Potter-ite.

Of course some lines were forgotten, which inevitably interrupted the momentum, but the audience had decided from the outset that they were there to have fun, so this this elicited cheers rather than pained silence. Even in the limited time scheme, it would probably have been possible to work out a framing narrative, which was all this production needed to turn it from great to outstanding. But overall, it was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while, and I’d love to see what could happen to it with even another 24 hours of work.