Writer: Fiona O’Malley
Composer: Joseph Alexander
Director: Adam Wollerton
Reviewer: Agnes Frimston
Following two nobodies, London Clinton and Dim Trashtrashian, The Daily Fail: The Musical charts their search for celebrity with the help of a devilish Fairy Godmother, Rupert Murdoch, and the trials they face in the press at the hands of The Daily Fail and its flame-haired editor Rebekah Brooks, sorry, Anna Fender.Charlotte Mitchell as Dim was great – a strong voice and real presence. Kate Hume as London was terribly sweet, but couldn’t be heard past the fifth row for many of her solos. Which is problematic in a lead.
On a positive note, some of the songs were fun, a lot of the dancing was great, and you could see the effort the cast were putting in. But the plot is difficult – are we judging London and Dim for being, well, dim, and naively just wanting to be famous for being famous? Or are we judging the editors and agents that encourage them, if only so they have front-page story fillers? It is unclear where the audience’s sympathy is supposed to lie. Also, if you are going to create a character exactly like Rebekah Brooks, why would you put Murdoch as a camp fairy godmother coercing vulnerable young things into making sex tapes? The reality is far more sinister. And as fun as demonising journalists is, it’s been done rather a lot elsewhere, and much better.
There are some very strong individual performances: the two villains Charlotte Godfrey as Anna Fender and Sam Haughton as Rupert Murdoch (also interestingly the only name not tweaked…) are particularly stand-out. Perhaps because they have clear comparisons in the real world to play on, or perhaps it was because they have some of the best lines to camp up. How could you not enjoy playing someone always accompanied by Panto-like hisses whenever you appear? Stephanie Hockley as the idealistic journalist Anna Prentice was compelling, doing a lot with a very 2-dimensional part. The choreography of all the ensemble parts was great, hats off to Rachel Kelly, almost too good in parts as it slightly over-shadowed any solos that were also going on.
This claims to be a “sexy, hilarious, and satirical musical inspired by the events of the Leveson Inquiry and the Hacking Scandal!” Unfortunately, there are some lines meant in jest that ring rather too true: “surely a musical about the Hacking Scandal would be boring?” Yes, yes it was. No matter how hard the cast was trying, the plot wasn’t there to help them.