Kaboodle, Soho Story

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

I didn’t enjoy Soho Story, but that may partly be due to disappointed expectations, as I assumed that it would be a piece of physical or visual theatre, whereas it was more of an agit-prop fringe theatre production laced with live rock music and a collage of slide and video projections. It was salvaged to some extent by the energy of the actors, who were doing their best with a script that said nothing about Soho life that hasn’t already been said better by Wolf Mankovitz or Colin McInnes. It may be unfair to complain that characters were one-dimensional in a production that aims to be a re-working of The Beggar’s Opera – I assume they were intended to be stereotypes of London’s showbiz underworld. However, Kaboodle just buy into a worn-out myth by continuing to hawk such tired cardboard cut-outs as the rich-bitch-turned-whore and the gullible young girl who’ll do anything to get a break. The only female with any strength of character is West Indian Josie – a sort of patronising political correctness that is not too far from the trying-too-hard style of inverse racism parodied by Ali G.

There are moments of interesting interaction in the piece, particularly between Josie (Sarah Niles) and club-owner Max (Lee Beagley); and one scene where the video is used to real effect when Max is beaten up – his horrific battering shown in Blair Witch-style shaky close-up as he writhes on the floor. If only more of the production had the truth and conviction of these sections. As it was, it was a piece of musical theatre that was rarely striving to be anything more than entertainment – received well by the audience, but not to my taste.

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Issue 12-1
p. 25