Springer the Opera (Lyttelton, National Theatre)
has the case for musical
theatre as a narcotic been more persuasive than with this show:
it's so compulsive that it could become addictive.
it detonates every taboo, with laughter ricocheting around the
theatre, the show becomes an equal opportunities offender..."
certainly leaves you high, floating on the exhilarating waves of
its sheer chutzpah and utter brilliance.
show like no other, it sees a modern cultural television phenomenon
- the confessional chat show - inventively appropriated to become
a phenomenal musical-cum-opera.
eat, we excrete, and we watch tv/and you are there for us Jerry",
goes one of the few printable refrains in a show that has profanity
graffiti-ed to almost every lyric.
the frequently gorgeous melodies of composer Richard Thomas are
offset against the words (by Thomas and co-writer/director Stewart
Lee) to create an extraordinary dramatic tension.
the first act, a typical episode of the Jerry Springer show comes
to life. There's the rotund man who admits to his fiancée
that not only has he been seeing someone else - her best friend,
a sometime crack and dope addict - but also a transvestite, who
proudly tells his rivals: "Talk to the hand because the
face ain't listening".
new take on the baby father figure in Jerry Springer the Opera
there's another man who tells his girlfriend, "I want to
be your baby, baby" - and means it literally, throwing
his clothes off to reveal the sight of a grown-man wearing diapers.
there's a larger-than-life, buxom blonde who reaches out to find
her own dignity and independence from her abusive redneck husband
through her desire to become a pole-dancer.
Just when you think it can't get any more delicious or delirious,
out comes a line of tap-dancing Ku Klux clansmen to take your breath
though this might seem to follow, the show doesn't end here. For
the second act, Jerry finds himself in Hell - and an even more hellish
version of his own show in which Jesus, no less, is called to account
for his actions by Satan, Adam and Eve, his mother Mary, and even
God, who descends from Heaven to declare: "It ain't easy
As it detonates every taboo, with laughter ricocheting around the
theatre, the show becomes an equal opportunities offender.
go if you're easily upset; but don't miss it if you want to be challenged,
surprised and exhilarated.
Jerry Springer hits the stage
Springer the Opera is at the National's Lyttelton Theatre and will
run in rep for 48 performances only to 5 July. Box office: 020 7452