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DRUNK – Bridewell Theatre, London.

Gemma Sutton as Ice in DRUNK. Photo Credit Marc Hankins (2)

Photo by Marc Hankins

Drew McOnie’s highly anticipated Drunk has finally stumbled into the Bridewell Theatre with sparkle, bubble and pizzazz as his company of eight dancers and five piece band swirl the audience into a euphoric state where our favourite tipples take on lives of their own.

Described by McOnie as ‘Theatre-Dance’, The McOnie Company aims to create a genre that cross-pollinates musical theatre and dance, creating new and original pieces that will be developed by an ensemble of performers and creatives from both disciplines. And that is exactly what you get in Drunk; Energetic dance numbers are broken up with some very wittily written songs composed by Grant Olding and lead by the magnificent Gemma Sutton.

On entering the theatre that has been transformed into an empty, dimly lit bar, the band set distinctly boozy, bluesy tone with some beautifully expressive playing from Matt McNaughton on the Saxophone and excellent musical direction throughout from Tom Kelly. The first character we meet is uptight Ice (Gemma Sutton) who can’t decide what to order and is waiting for her perfect match to melt her frosty exterior. Will it be suave James Bond-esque Martini (Daniel Collins) who woos the ladies with his smooth moves? Or will it be the Shots – a bunch of lively lads out on a stag do and looking to impress? With each new encounter we see Ice soften a little more, reflecting on her past relationships which include a moving duet with her first love, Cider (Simon Hardwick), evoking young teenage years and summer days that seem to last forever.

Other highlights are song and dance duo, the incredibly British Gin and Tonic, Katy Lowenhoffs endearing, hiccupping Champagne, and the aging Russian actress Vodka (Lucinda Lawrence) who lives in the faded glamour of her past. McOnie cleverly manages to create a revue that is not only concocted of varying and contrasting dance styles but is executed in such a way that the dancing becomes a language which the audience can follow and understand. We empathise with the stories of these characters and have fun guessing each new beverage. There are some real comic numbers, not least when a quartet of Pimms drinking toffs are playing polo and, in a moment of choreographic genius, row across the stage. However I think the stand out moment for me is Scotch and Rum (Ashley Andrews and Fela Lufadeju), the touching tale of two WWII soldiers separated at war, narrated by Sutton. And all this in under 90 minutes!

There are stellar performances throughout as expected, though I could have done with the moments of unified choreography being cleaner and more precise, especially seeing as we’re in such an intimate and unforgiving space.  As technically amazing as some of the individual performances are, it’s that togetherness you get from a company moving as a single entity that I find truly magic and, in parts, I found this lacking from Drunk. Having said that, there is more to recommend than criticize here; Drunk is a thoroughly entertaining evening for anyone from a Dance Connoisseur, to a MT Lovey, to your best mate who can only do the Macarena so get down to the Bridewell Theatre, grab a bottle and enjoy. Cheers!

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Reviewed 06/02/14

By Amy Lawrence

5th Feb – 1st Mar 2014
The Bridewell Theatre, London, EC4.

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