Evergreen Theatrical Productions
King's Theatre, Edinburgh, and touring
Tomfoolery is a musical revue based on the songs of Tom Lehrer, performed by an uneven cast (comprised of duo Kit and the Widow, Dillie Keane, and Matthew Wolfenden). The show makes good use of the chemistry between the older members of the team, though as the youngest member of the cast Wolfenden seems at times out of place.
The show is essentially a crash course in Lehrer's repertoire, though it is not a history lesson nor a biographical piece. Rather, the songs are loosely linked by meandering monologues and conversations, delivered by each of the performers.
When Lehrer's songs are good, they're top-notch - "Smut," "I Got It From Agnes," "Irish Ballad," "I Hold Your Hand In Mine" and "Masochism Tango" are amongst the funniest songs of the evening. The show could have done with more of these lively, witty numbers, but instead there are a few songs that, either because they're too dated or too long, put the brakes on the evening's mood.
The best moments of the evening come from Keane, whose ballsy take-no-prisoners attitude is at its best during her solo numbers - some of the moves she makes while singing "Smut" are shockingly grotesque, but one can only admire Keane's willingness to throw herself wholeheartedly into each of her numbers.
While Kit and the Widow have a clear, interesting rapport on stage, Wolfenden suffers from seeming to hold back in the early stages of the show; he's not helped by being the one to perform some of the evening's slower, less outright hysterical numbers. Some enthusiastic dancing got the audience on his side during "Irish Ballad," but something about his performance was just too timid to let it blend easily with those of his fellow cast members.
Oliver Kubicki's set is reminiscent of a 50s or 60s era New York City apartment; large plastic furniture and an Andy Warhol-esque painting beside a grand piano set the scene for the evening's events.
The average of ages in the audience seemed to hover around 50 or 60 as well, which suggests that Tomfoolery will appeal primarily to those who already have a familiarity with, and love for, the work of this American satirist.
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody