EDINBURGH 2017 – BWW Review: 2016 THE MUSICAL, theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

Few years in recent memory have included such a host of dramatic events, so it is perhaps no surprise that the turbulent time that was 2016 has been chosen as the subject of this new musical from Evolution Theatre.

It opens in the distant future, where a father is explaining to his daughters how the end of the world came about. The post-apocalyptic reflection on how things all went wrong is somewhat reminiscent of We Will Rock You, but unfortunately the show doesn’t capitalise on the dramatic irony of historical misconceptions in the same way.

Flashing back to last year, the story takes us through some of the major events that defined it, with the hope of January 1st crushed under the weight of celebrity deaths, Brexit and Trump’s election win.

Musical numbers are sprinkled throughout, alternately expressing that things could never get so bad then lamenting when they invariably do, and feature cameos from many of the big names of the year – like Trump, Clinton, Farage and Cameron.

The young cast attacks the excellent choreography with plenty of skill and vim, all singing well, though they suffer a little from the lack of amplification. However, the main issue with the performances, universal enough to suggest directorial choice, is indulgent overacting, with so much mugging and over-exaggeration as to be off-putting.

Impressions of political figures are poorly handled, as they appear to be trusted to silly wigs to communicate a character, with little attempt made at capturing any of the respective mannerisms.

The show describes itself as satire, but there’s little incisive or original in its take on events, and few jokes seem to land. Unfortunately, this take on 2016 suggests it was a year best forgotten.

2016 the Musical is at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall until August 26 (not 20) at 2pm.


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