Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
As many of you avid theatre fans may know, hidden away in the Ancoats area of Manchester is a rustic-looking, musical theatre metropolis and imperatively successful fringe theatre venue, quaintly named Hope Mill Theatre. This warehouse space has been artfully renovated in order to facilitate the presentation of innovative new productions, whether these are intelligible, well-thought out revivals or brand-spanking new works. Aptly self tag-lined as a ‘factory of creativity’, Hope Mill has thus become a kind-of Mecca for outstanding British musicals outside of London, and Club Mex was no exception to this rule.
This sassy and scintillating, immersive night club experience took audiences on a wildly poptastic, Mexican party-holiday to Cancun. Think The Inbetweeners, (well a female version), mixed in with flavours of Love Island and Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents, all set to a hell-raising pop score reminiscent of many club classics. With spine tingling vocals and flashy choreography, this witty new production can only be commended for its display of talent and for the way it fully absorbed its spectatorship, enveloping them into the action and providing something truly explosive.
Club Mex, a girl-power, coming of age comedy sees Mel and her two best friends take to the dance floor, alongside the audience, on a hen-do they are certain to remember despite all of the booze, sex and hangovers. Wonderfully heart-warming and vivacious, it is an emotional rollercoaster filled to the brim with hysterical moments of clever comedy, impending tragedy and uplifting instances of euphoria. Amounting to a guilty pleasure-esque level of entertain-ability and inescapably relatable narrative, commendations must thus be given to writer Tamar Broadbent and composer John-Victor for their stellar work. Whilst Julie Atherton’s direction is infallible, breathing life into the piece and gifting it with the immersive nuances needed for the engendering of the club atmosphere. Whilst the versatility of the design, complete with a DJ booth, two long platformed stages leading to a hotel room, the space being decked out in neon strips of lighting and framed by projections aplenty, allowed for the creation of varying party locations, whilst specially adding to overall immersivity of the performance, (particularly the club-style lighting). Resulting in a magnificently atmospheric side to the work.
It is difficult to find anything to hate, the young cast were all faultless in performance, hitting each accent of the choreography, energetically bounding around the performance space and audience, whilst humorously delivering the barrage of witticisms embedded within the script. Most importantly each and every one of them showing off their vocal prowess through the punchy musical numbers written by John-Victor, all commanding the stage and as a result seeming eerily at ease when toying with their audience. Jade Johnson’s Mel is a joy, she is vocally stunning and endlessly powerful, whilst Alison Arnopp is equally as vigorous and strong. Alvaro Flores’ Antonio ultimately providing the cherry on top of the carefully constructed comedy drive.
To conclude this self aware piece isn’t mind-blowing, but it still absolutely shines as it knows it is there simply to provide a light-hearted, fun evening out peppered with TV-esque levels of comedy, and it does just that! Whilst of course boosting a wide array of talent and hit after hit in the song department. We hope this short run wasn’t the end for Club Mex and look forward to another visit to Hope Mill soon.
To find out what else is happening at the theatre click here.
Writer: Tamar Broadbent
Director: Julie Atherton
Choreographer: Genesis Lynea
Set & Costume Designer: Emma Bailey
Sound Designer: Max Hunter
Lighting Designer: Francis Clegg
Musical Director: Sarah Morrison
Casting by Pearson Casting.
Produced by Global Musicals, in a co-production with Aitch Productions.
Jade Johnson – MEL
Alison Arnopp – TIFF
Emma Louise Hoey – LOU
Alvaro Flores – ANTONIO
Jeremy Sartori – JOSH
Bradley Connor – GRAHAM
Jonathan Cordin – Ensemble
Jessica Shaw – Ensemble