Jack Rosenthal
Menier Chocolate Factory

Smash! publicity graphic

There is always a risk in writing a show about a show that sank without trace. It was fully realised when Smash! lived up to every word of criticism fired in the direction of the disastrous musical at its heart.

The late Jack Rosenthal is probably best remembered for his play Bar Mitzvah Boy. What is not now recalled is that he attempted to turn it into a musical and cooked an over-priced, kosher turkey.

Sadly, while watching Smash!, one can understand that a Rosenthal creation could have been a cast iron flop. The characters are clichéd and the jokes must have been ancient, even when it premiered in the 70s.

The producers have invested in two big names, Tom Conti who plays the ever-hopeful Viennese-born producer and The West Wing's Richard Schiff in the role of the sour-faced composer, a man who has had 28 Broadway hits and repeats that fact on even more occasions.

This is one of several running jokes that are not that funny, while many other attempts to amuse them passed a full house by.

Beyond the central pairing, we also see an innocent and supremely untalented female writer, an egotistical American director and a lyricist with no personality and a tedious line in sexual fantasy.

The Menier has hardly put a foot wrong in the last few years so the law of averages says that they will have the odd misjudgement. With La Cage Aux Folles still going strong on Broadway, surely they can be forgiven.

Running until 8th May

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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