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The Quentin Dentin Show
Above the Arts
18th May 2016

★★★☆☆

Luke Lane as Quentin Dentin with the ensemble

Photography © Mihaela Bodlovic

When Friend 3 (Luke Lane) is promoted to being Quentin Dentin, he magically travels though a radio to help Keith (Jamie Tibke) and Nat (Shauna Riley) sort out their lives, bringing along boiler suit clad Friend 1 (Felix Denton) and Friend 2 (Lydia Costello) for the funsies. Oh yes, it's clearly Bring Your Creepy Friends To Work Day in Quentin Land. From the beginning, there's something sinister to Quentin's alternative couple's therapy, not least the booming voice (Freddie Fullerton) urging him not to fail in his mission or face the consequences. Confused? Probably not as much as Keith and Nat. But don't ask questions, The Quentin Dentin Show is the sort of musical where you just have to suspend all disbelief and roll with it.

This mad production simply wouldn't work without Lane in the titular role. He throws himself into the part with a huge deal of conviction, enthusiastically belting out random number after number and strutting around the stage with the vacuous expression and chiseled cheekbones of a Ken doll. He's deliberately hammy and camp, trying to evoke the same mass cult appeal of The Rocky Horror Show or Shock Treatment. However, as bizarre as The Quentin Dentin Show is, I actually think it could and should go further than it does. Whilst it's bonkers, it's not quite Brad and Janet bonkers.

Writer, composer and musical director Harry Carpenter oversees the production on keys, along with Mickey Howard on guitar and Archie Wolfman on drums. The band are fantastic, if a little excessive for the small theatre. None of Carpenter's melodies are earworms, but some of his lines are deliciously bleak and clever with the lyrics for Lemons, Get Happy and Take Your Medicine particular highlights. The complexities of Get Happy reduce into a wailing refrain of "sing with the fishes", foreshadowing Quentin's desire to simplify Nat and Keith's lives for them. All of his reasoning eventually degrades into an order.

For a show that's been developed and redeveloped so many times, including a trip up north to the Edinburgh Fringe, which let's face it, is a festival which will chew you up and spit you out without a second thought if you stage anything with the slightest flaw in it, I was expecting, well, more than this. Although a lot about The Quentin Dentin Show is fun, it's not entirely polished. Some of the vocals are a bit ropey and there are some scenes which are overly repetitive and drawn out. Lane is the most successful singer out of all the performers, holding some high notes well and getting through face-paced word intensive verses without stumbling, however none of his co-stars seem to have especially strong vocals, which makes for odd casting in a musical.

What Denton and Costello lack in vocals, they do compensate for somewhat with wide-eyed gormless expressions, constantly gurning and milling about, assembling on cue to support Quentin as needed. Riley puts in a decent performance as the frustrated girlfriend, desperate for something more yet not quite knowing what. Whilst Tibke is less convincing as her other half, the superficial nature of his character means this doesn't matter too much.

Initial lulls aside, Caldonia Walton's direction is good, with the timing spot on and her choreography simple yet effective. Carpenter pokes fun at himself and his work increasingly towards its conclusion, and Walton elicits laughs from the throwaway self-aware lines. There's a message somewhere in The Quentin Dentin Show. Possibly about happiness and fulfilment, but maybe also about not listening to strange men who manifest themselves in your living room after your radio goes a bit funny. This is just over an hour of quirky, late night insanity that doesn't take itself too seriously.

The Quentin Dentin Show opened on 16th May and runs until 28th May 2016 at Above the Arts.

Nearest tube station: Leicester Square (Piccadilly, Northern)



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