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Theatre Review: Shang a Lang - King's Theatre, Glasgow ✭


"By Catherine Johnson writer of Mamma Mia" shouts the cover of Shang a Lang's programme and the halo effect of Mamma Mia creates an audience expectation of a fun night out at a musical.  However, Butlins is a far cry from the Greek island where you can find Donna et al and the nearest the production gets to Mamma Mia's league is Lyn McAndrew's costume in Act One that looks like a cast off from Donna and the Dynamos. 

Coarse language litters the production with seemingly endless use of f**k and its derivatives as well as the particularly casual and unnecessary overuse of c**t. Characters that show very early promise soon run out of redeeming characteristics and the trundling plot as Pauline's birthday weekend descends into debauchery and betrayal before staggering towards its inevitable conclusion is criminally slow. 

The book seems to be devoid of all 2013 cultural context with references that would have Operation Yewtree knocking at the door and if the coarse language wasn't offensive enough the two male lead actors appeared on stage blacked-up and sporting afro wigs as the "Soul Brothers". The limited, clunking set only adds to the discomfort producing lengthy scene changes where the hits of the era that the audience were expecting finally get an airing to rapturous applause. Shrill sound issues plagued the evening with entire scenes of dialogue swallowed into the void.

Words cannot really describe Shang a Lang, it was like nothing I have ever seen before and I hope I never have to see anything like it again.

Shang a Lang is at the King's Theatre until Saturday 23rd November.

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