Cruise the seas, raise the dead, fall in love, enjoy Armageddon. Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair is the most bonkers musical of the summer.
Cruising into the eye of the apocalypse, can Captain Bleaufont find his dead lost lover? Can rep Hanks turn the ship around and get it to a nunnery before the end of the world? And some other stuff happens in Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair. With songs. Yeah.
From the people who brought you Vampire Hospital Waiting Room (which I unfotunately missed), comes the next hotly anticipated completely off the wall musical comedy from the company. Sending up romance dramas, thrillers, and B-Movies of the golden age of cinema, Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affairs is a strange and unholy cocktail of goofiness. It includes strains of unrequited love, unbelievable twists, and more cheeky cliches than a book of cheeky cliches. Not to mention a good helping of filth and toilet humour in just the right amount of flushes (toilet humour…”flushes”…geddit?).
As well as the knowing send ups of much cherished film genres, Theo McCabe and Steve Duffy and their team also have a brilliant knack for off the wall silliness. With everything chucked at the it, like inconsistent accents, strange annunciations, puns, reference jokes, malapropism, and plenty of physical comedy, means Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair is a show where the laughs come thick and fast.
The only problem is one that is why comedy the hardest genre to stage. Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair sets the comic pacing bar quite high from the start, but fails to keep the comedy at that level throughout, causing the show to dip and drag a bit in the centre. But it’s a very tricky thing to ensure there’s peaks, troughs, and variety of energies that don’t considerably fall from what is established at the beginning. The only company I can think who get this consistently right is Spymonkey, and although Beach Comet might not be quite at that level yet, they’re within graspable reach to be real contemporaries and masters of the oddball stage silliness.
Music & Lyrics
McCabe and Duffy’s songs are as high spirited as the book for Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair, with the lyrics as fun and as barmy as the text. Many of them send up particular genres and tropes fantastically well to the point that some songs are ridiculous good and catchy, such as the marvellous “Six Inches of Face”. There are a couple of songs that don’t quite reach similar hilarious heights, which is a shame, but there isn’t one song that’s bad or sticks out as a mishap.
Direction & Production
It’s really great to see a live band in a musical on the fringe, and in Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair this is integral to the show’s energy and charisma. The band make the show incredibly lively as well as being able to respond instantly to the cast’s shenanigans. However, balance is a bit of a problem as the cast aren’t mic-ed. For a show where a lot of the jokes are in the songs, making sure the quips can be heard is pretty vital, and it’s a shame that there are moments where these are lost when cast members can’t quite rise above the sound of music.
As for production, there is a brilliant knowing when it comes to the show’s props and production values. They’re purposefully cheap, garish, and sometimes ridiculous, giving the cast plenty of fodder to play around with and further with Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair to further give it a sense of wonderfully frenetic visual comedy.
Beach Comet are a brilliantly seasoned and talented comic troupe. What’s best about them really is their rapport and playfulness with each other that then overflows and gushes into the audience. Their comic timing is also top notch: crucial for such a high octane farce such as this. However, Joe McArdle as Captain Bleaufont really shines, with a tremendous presence ad side-splitting repartee. McArdle really revels in just how crazy and audacious his character is with unapologetic charisma.
Grab yourself a cocktail and a cabin boy, and set sail for hilarity. Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair is the comedy excursion of a lifetime.
Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair plays at the Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue 14), Edinburgh, EH8 9AJ, until 29 August 2016. Tickets are £8 – £10 (concessions available). To book, visit tickets.edfringe.com.