With The Book of Mormon getting ready to finish at the Palace, Jerry Springer The Opera heads to Hope Mill, offering up an original slice of controversy, endless profanity and razor-sharp cutting satire.
I’ll say this first and foremost – I thoroughly enjoyed Jerry Springer The Opera, however when the Ku Klux Clan walked out, all decked in white, I must admit even I felt a twinge of awkward guilt – a feeling I’d not experienced in many, many years.
But I suppose that’s what you come to expect when you watch Jerry Springer The Opera, a musical that originally ran for 609 highly controversial performances in London from 2003 – 2005 before going on tour throughout the rest of the UK in 2006.
Well, the opera has made a triumphant return to Hope Mill this August, with Producer and Director James Baker taking Richard Thomas and Steward Lee’s original production and giving it a contemporary shot up the arse to appeal to an audience who are perhaps a little bit more thick-skinned than we were in the early noughties.
The premise of the show is set up exactly like an actual Jerry Springer show, with you in the audience also acting as the audience of the show, alongside a raucous choir of on-stage audience members who sing, dance, fight and swear their way through proceedings.
As the show gets underway, you are transported right back to those wonderful times when Jerry Springer really was one of the most watched things on TV, complete with sordid sex stories, shitting in nappies, strippers, fights and of course – plenty of swearing. The only difference here is that everyone is singing instead of shouting.
Oh and the people on stage are actors and not toothless trailer trash from some Wisconsin hell-hole. Of course.
From here on in the show gets really weird, but still manages to preserve a frantic energy and creativity that keeps you glued to your seats and howling with laughter.
This is not only achieved with the songs but also the electric performances by all of the cast, specifically Michael Howe as the straight man Jerry Springer, and David Burilin who manages to channel quite possibly the best interpretation of Jesus that I’ve ever seen.
Vocal performances are also outstanding, with Matt Bond‘s booming baritone reverberating through the small theatre, and CiCi Howells channelling her inner diva with the pregnant stripper Shawntel (and later Eve). Everyone in the cast was excellent, throwing two sheets to the winds and truly embracing the madness.
It must be said that Jerry Springer The Opera is still certainly controversial, with the aforementioned Ku Klux Clan only really being a minor footnote in the proceedings.
Only as soon as Jesus and Satan turn up, alongside a whole host of other Biblical characters, do you truly understand how so many people and religious groups got so hot under the collar all those years ago.
I bloody loved it though – and was laughing hysterically throughout. Clever, funny and even thought provoking, this is exactly what I want from an Opera – and you will too!
Jerry Springer The Opera is on until August 31st.
Jerry Springer The Opera
Venue: Hope Mill
Dates: Until Saturday 31st August
Cost: From £20