Reviewed by Matt Forrest
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How do you describe a production like Spinach? A musical pharmaceutical thriller maybe? Operatic Rom-com? Both of the descriptions would actually work for this bonkers, hilarious production, that will guarantee to have you grinning from ear-to-ear!
The play opens with Mancuninan Tom (Joe Parker) and Londoner Kate (Charlotte Linighan), both tied back-to-back to one another in a dark, dingy basement. Neither have a clue how they got there, or who the other one is but together they must work out how they landed themselves in the predicament and more importantly how they get out of it!
All dialogue is sung from the start of the production through to the end, and as the pair sing, their memories come back. We learn that Kate is a part time journalist, but full-time good Samaritan, who helps homeless people as and when she can, whilst Tom is a pharmaceutical worker, who along with his colleague, Darren (Chris Whittaker) believe the company they work for is in cahoots with a Cuban drug cartel. With their lives in danger, can Tom and Kate stop bickering with each other, solve the mystery and maybe have a chance at finding love.
There is so much to admire about Janine and Simon Water’s production: a smart script, filled with twists and turns, married with some fun, punchy lyrics (you’ll kill for a Halloumi kebab by the end). The premise may be absurd but is no less silly than some Hollywood blockbusters.
Parker and Linigihan make a likeable, engaging couple, who have bundles of chemistry. Whittaker is equally in fine form as the co-worker, also dragged into this crazy situation. In addition, there is a scene-stealing turn from Rachael McGuinness as Maureen, another co-worker of Tom and Darren, whose no nonsense, hardened attitude hides an attraction for Darren. All four show a gift for comedy throughout and deserve heaps of credit for 80 minutes of singing, without an interval. The superb cast are backed up by some exceptional musicians with Lawrence Woof on piano and Bess Shooter on Saxophone. The music is at times menacing, playful but always on point.
The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre has a lot to celebrate this year, following an upgrade to the theatre as well as 2021 marking it’s 10-year anniversary as Manchester Theatre for participation. If Spinach is an indication of the ambition of The Edge, then the future is bright indeed.
This is a silly, fun show that provides the perfect excuse to brave the cold and have a night out at a great venue, watching a show of real quality.
Spinach is on at The Edge until the 18th December tickets available