Fringe Review: And They Played Shang-a-Lang - Stand III ✭✭✭✭

 And They Played Shang-A-Lang - And They Played Shang-A-Lang

One of the great delights of the Edinburgh Fringe is that the diverse range of venues lead you into unusual spaces and Stand III’s traditional bar in the corner of the room that looks unchanged for decades certainly helps set the scene for the musical.

As And They Played Shang-a-Lang begins we learn that Jim Douglas has been tragically killed in a car crash and his niece Lucy is trying to learn more about him by reading the last play he wrote about growing up in the 70s. From there the musical time travels to the 70s and Jim's primary school. The cast soon fill the tiny stage to bursting point both in terms of numbers, exuberance and energy.

You could be forgiven for thinking this show is only for people who grew up in the 70s but all adults will find themselves nodding in agreement, laughing wildly and feeling the poignancy as Jim reflects on those he's lost in his life. Watching the girls singing enthusiastically along into hairbrushes to hit of the day Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep I was reminded of my 80s childhood where Kylie was the order of the day but the hairbrushes were the same!

Narrated by Jim (played by playwright and director Derek Douglas) And They Played Shang-a-Lang brings the 70s to life through memories and music. It would be simplistic to label this a Jukebox musical as it does only involve songs from the decade, not original works. These songs have been carefully selected and aren't shoe-horned in to tell the story, they themselves are as much the memories Jim is reflecting on as the anecdotes he shares.

By far the stand-out highlight of this piece is the absolutely hysterical Nativity Play. I won't give away the game but this scene is marvellously acted and I honestly about fell off my chair laughing. Niloo Far Khan gets her characterisation absolutely perfect supported by the rest of the cast who do not miss a single opportunity to cause mayhem. Lindsay Lee Wilson, Phil Ryan, Arron Usher and Stephen James Martin also stand out in this fantastic ensemble piece. Their collective energy is infectious and they take you on a journey that takes in the whole emotional spectrum.

With some further development this has real potential to be a fantastic, full-scale production. It's an absolute must-see of this year's Fringe and if you don't take our word for it, believe the ticket sales as the sold-out audiences are a testament to this being one of the hottest tickets at the Fringe.

Warning: You'll be singing Shang-a-Lang for days!

Until 26th August at The Stand Comedy Club III