Writer Louise Roche has been successfully creating productions featuring female friends, living out their lives to a Karaoke style soundtrack, for some time now.
This latest show follows three female singers known collectively as "The Diamonds." The flimsy concept features their highs and lows, with the odd bawdy joke or tear jerking moment thrown in for good measure.
Beaches, though, it's not, as here is simply not enough going on to keep you smiling and sobbing. The three actresses give it their best shot though, lifting the piece when it flags, which they are called upon to do frequently.
Sue Devaney is delightful as Serena, the peacemaker of the bunch. She has a lovely vocal tone and is a natural comedienne. Maureen Nolan, likewise handles her role with aplomb, making her lines funnier than they are.
Musicality winner, Donna Hazelton is refreshing also, but she does tend to shout, overdoing the comedy, thus, forcing the laughs. Her vocals are as polished as you remember, though.
The problem is, that the show just ambles along, leading to a predictable climax. The musical numbers are fun and all the crowd-pleasers are here, like "You've Got A Friend" (movingly delivered) and "Stay With Me Baby." But with a backing tape, in place of a band, you never get a 'hair standing on the back of your neck' moment. Even the MC is on tape, which makes the show feel lazy and slightly cheap.
The book covers ground that has been covered many times by the likes of Victoria Wood, with far more precision. The main problem is that the whole set up feels dated and very sitcom-like in tone, but with musical numbers in place of the ad breaks. Even Alex Eales basic set design looks like it has been exhumed from a BBC dumping ground.
Tony Simpson's lighting gives the nightclub feel to the show, transporting you with immediate effect. The three actresses work wonders with the material and it is they, who are worth the admission price, alone
Girls Behind is a sweet natured, harmlessly entertaining show, complete with feather boas and white stilettos. But, a bit more glitter, pizzazz, pace, heart and a live band would make it a show to "Shout" about.
- Glenn Meads