Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Loserville at the Union Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Loserville at the Union Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Loserville at the Union Theatre
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28 Feb REVIEW: Loserville at the Union Theatre

It’s 1971. The floppy disk has just been invented, Sony are about to release the first VCR, and mobile phones are but a twinkle in their inventors’ eyes. But Michael Dork, a would-be computer programmer has set out to invent something that could just change the world…What if he could find a way to get computers to talk to each other? Though, how can he expect computers to talk to each other when he can’t even talk to the new girl in class, a girl who’s got both Brains and Looks, as well as techy skills to rival his own.

Loserville takes us inside the Computer Room, to hang with the nerds building tin-foil-time-traversing vehicles, where reciting pi is a winning party trick, and the only things thicker than their glasses are the football knuckleheads outside waiting to vilify them.

Embracing every American high school stereotype (we’re talking stereotypes on steroids, here), Loserville gives us the jocks, geeks and plastics, in a social hierarchy that victimises intelligence and idolises academic indolence. Only, in this show, we’re reminded that it’s not the football team who win big in the long run – and that sometimes being a techy nerd can pay off. Remember…”one day, every corporation will fear a guy in a garage.”

With an irresistibly catchy, pop-y score from Elliot Davis, Loserville bursts with energy in an exciting choreography (Matt Kazan) kind of way, rather than because of some nuclear discovery from our resident geeks. The result is indefatigable (kudos to the cast for that one), and leaves you with a great big grin on your face.

Besides recruiting individuals with impressive stamina, Loserville features exceptional casting from Adam Braham, including Jordan Fox’s agonisingly awkward Lucas, hitting comedy and pathos in equal measure, Sarah Covey’s nightmare of a queen bee, Leia, and Luke Newton’s socially inept – but vocally very ept Michael. And in a stunning performance, Lewis Bradley is every bit the entitled narcissist, strutting about the high school hallways and gazing with vainglory at his own reflection. With Bradley’s Fiyero evident in his character, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect casting for Eddie Arch.

But the best character, by a precisely-measured mile is Holly, the new girl who aspires to being an astronaut. Intelligent and independent, she notes her frustration at people commenting that she wants to be the first woman in space, not that she just wants to be in space, and laments being cursed with Brains and Looks, as her bust overshadows her intellect (no pun intended). Holly-Ann Hull is ideal for the role, and delivers a vocal performance more lovely than the vision of a completed Rubix cube.

One of the great things about watching productions at the Union Theatre is that you get to hear real voices, from really talented humans, unamplified. But it has to be said that this particular production could use a little hand from some microphones; with a live band including drums, the ensemble songs are a treat, but sometimes solo lines or quieter moments are totally drowned by the backing music – which is a shame as the lyrics are always worth paying attention to.

The acoustics of the space aside, it’s transformed into brainiac heaven – a classroom, computer lab and planetarium, all in one. Coupling this with some witty prop work and well-chosen costumes gives a visually striking, colourful result, that just adds to the explosion of energy on stage.

My inner geek loves the show, so let’s get binary with this. If 1’s a thumbs up, and 0’s a thumbs down, then it has to be a 1. Funny, vibrant and outstandingly cast, Michael Burgen’s Loserville gives the geek it’s chic.

Dates: 25th February – 21st March 2015
Venue: Union Theatre
For tickets and information:
Image: Darren Bell

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here