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Club Nightmare (Fringe World 2024)

Reviewed by Paul Treasure

 

There is something very exciting about the premiere of a new musical. Is there going to be something exciting or inspirational? Is it going to make us think and challenge us? Is it going to be something that we are going to want to revisit again and again? But it is also extremely rare for a musical to spring fully formed from the forehead of its creator. Even the greatest of musicals endure months or years of workshops and out-of-town tryouts before they hit their final glorious form. The question for a reviewer, therefore, is not only “Is this show good?”, but also “Could this show be good?”. Club Nightmare is a show with a LOT of potential.

The basic premise for the show is exciting and original. Heaven and Hell as competing nightclubs, but told from the point of view of the denizens of the netherworld. Our entrée to this world is the disgraced angel, El, who has been kicked out of heaven, lost her wings, and has come to Club Nightmare in search of work. Paige Fallu is utterly charming in the role. In a show where all the other characters need to bring varying amounts of cynicism and worldliness, her wide-eyed innocence brings a freshness and joy to the stage. Other standouts include Gabi Munro who nailed the cynical, seen-it-all, bartender Jacks, and Nye Morrison, as El’s angelic boyfriend Gabe, whose solo was beautifully sung and perfectly represented the angelic nature of his character.

The rest of the cast is full of characters representing various supernatural creatures. Although it was often difficult to work out who or what the various characters were supposed to represent. I feel a bit more character work could have strengthened this area, especially as the character descriptions would have been so much fun to really get stuck into. The choreography was clever and interesting and could have been very exciting, but it did feel that the cast was going through the motions and performing choreography, with the notable exception of Gemma Hanh, as Wisp, who was the one actor who looked like they had really internalised the movements and were actually dancing.

Given the limitations of the venue and what would have been available to this production, the set and lighting were adequate. In a different venue, with a different rig and more lighting available, this show could have really popped. I couldn’t help but feel the lighting designer had their hands tied with what they could achieve. Given the limitations, they did a very good job, and I would love to have seen what they could have pulled out with more resources. Especially with the dance numbers, which would have been enhanced with a fantastic and ostentatious lighting design.

I would implore the writer, Ashley Elliott, to keep going with this show, and to treat this Fringe World season as a first workshop. There were a few things that didn’t work this time around, but quite a few that worked cleverly. I hope this is not the last we see of this show, and I look forward to seeing it again and again until it reaches its full infernal potential.


The Cast of Club Nightmare. Image provided by the theatre company.

Reviewer Note: Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.

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