Titian-haired bombshell Catherine Tate is explosively funny in Miss Atomic Bomb, a musical comedy that has just gone nuclear at London’s St James Theatre.
This brand new show opened last night and it was a blast. The reaction from the audience was nothing short of radioactive. Their glowing smiles – which had nothing to do with the luminous cocktails being handed out during the press night – could probably be seen throughout Victoria.
OK, I’m stopping with the puns before the fallout kills off my readers. Seriously though, hindsight is a great thing. Miss Atomic Bomb is set in 1950s Las Vegas when the government detonated a frightening number of A-Bombs and invited everyone to the party. Reading the programme notes will literally make your mouth drop open in astonishment at the ignorance and stupidity of the world’s supposed superpower.
Would the Americans have behaved differently given the knowledge they now have about atomic explosions and their effects? Probably not.
Vegas, just beginning to mushroom thanks to massive foresight and money-laundering investment by the Mafia, sat on the edge of the Atomic Energy Commission’s testing site in the Nevada desert.
Tourists flooded into the area to watch the blasts, all-night parties were held, journalists and soldiers watched with no more protection than a pair of sunglasses, and the radioactive ash that fell on the area killed livestock and people with impunity.
Jesus. Why hasn’t this been parodied before? It’s ripe for the picking.
Adam Long, Alex Jackson-Long and Gabriel Vick have created a rich satire dressed up as a Vegas revue, with stand-out song and dance routines amid a comic tale of everyday folk trying to scratch out a living amid the sand dunes and casinos.
Vick’s lyrics are hysterical with tunes including Where There’s Sheep There’s Hope, Radioactive Love, and Fallout.
It’s crazy, absurdly so, and the lunacy is heightened knowing that it’s spawned from a factual event. I left wondering how the people of 1950s Las Vegas, officially known as Atomic City USA, ever managed to avoid contamination. They didn’t need the billions of neon lights illuminating the gambling capitol, they could have just plugged its radioactive residents into the grid.
Tate, poured into impossibly tight, low cut frocks, is dress designer Myrna Ranapapadophilou who dreams of fleeing the desert for California and running her own fashion empire. Her husky, come hither voice, is pure gold and the character a comic’s dream. She totter’s about on vertiginous heels in the sand as her sheep-farmer friend, Candy Johnson, fixes up the ramshackle trailer which is their passport outta town.
Back in Vegas Simon Lipkin’s terrified and desperate hotelier, Lou Lubowitz, is trying to talk his way out of being shot by his Wise Guy boss who is disappointed that his investment is a disaster. Unless Lou can come up with a gimmick then both the Golden Goose Hotel, and it’s manager, face being shut down for good.
The answer comes from Lou’s runaway soldier brother, Joey. A beauty pageant, Miss Atomic Bomb, would bring in gorgeous girls, punters, and people wanting to watch that day’s detonation. Win-win all around – or so he hopes.
Just as insane is that it’s not the A Bomb, or the force behind it, that are the bad guys in this spoof, it’s a tireless, demented bank worker, Beverley Potts (played with delirious relish by Daniel Boys) who turns up like a bad penny, to foreclose on poor Candy.
There’s a love story between Candy and Joe, and some glowing turns from a talented cast. Lipkin carries most of the comedy beside Tate and he’s a riot, spending the entire show in a state of perpetual fear and panic.
Florence Andrews, as the feisty heroine, Candy, has an outstanding singing voice and lights up the stage during the musical numbers (even more so than the A Bomb visual and lighting effects) while Dean John-Wilson, who later this year plays Aladdin in the big Disney West End musical, is engaging as the show’s romantic hero Joey.
This comedy, set in the crux of the nuclear arms industry, doesn’t go far enough and is remarkably restrained considering that there was the potential, and material, for it to be even blacker.
Even so the Longs and Vick have created a dynamic production that is funny, entertaining, and original. Hell, it even features pigs shaved, dressed and ready for instant annihilation.
Miss Atomic Bomb runs at St James Theatre until April 9.
Miss Atomic Bomb
Insanely funny, Miss Atomic Bomb, is an explosive new comedy musical that ridicules America’s nuclear industry. It’s a blast.