Eurobeat - Winning Is Everything assigns audience members to one of ten competing countries and, as with the real Eurovision, invites them to vote for their favourite contestants via text message, with a nightly winner announced at the end of the performance. There’s also a video introduction by Terry Wogan, and plenty of flag-waving, horn-blowing, clacker-slapping and cheering.
The show proved a popular hit at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe, before embarking on a national tour. Set in Sarajevo, Eurobeat is hosted by the eccentric duo of children’s TV presenter Sergei (played by Les Dennis) and Boyka (Mel Giedroyc, of Mel & Sue), a former Olympic pole-vaulting champion, lifestyle programme hostess and cabaret performer.
It is written by Aussies Andrew Patterson and Craig Christie, produced and directed by Glynn Nicholas, designed by Richard Jeziorny and choreographed by Natalie K Marsland and Andrew Hallsworth. In addition to Dennis and Giedroyc, the company includes Sarah Boulton, Emma Brooke, Sarah Cahalarn, Emma Cannon, Adam Charles-Hills, Mairi Cowieson, Scott Garnham, Lewis Griffiths, Natasha Jayetileke, Arvid Larsen, Kay Murphy, Craig Perry, Sergio Priftis and Carl Stallwood.
“Funnier than the real thing” was the consensus of most overnight critics, who left any traces of cultural snobbery at the door to embrace the “hilariously camp” and “exuberantly enjoyable” show. There was the odd dissenter, with Nicholas de Jongh of the Evening Standard labelling the experience “torture” and comparing it to the Nazi rallies at Nuremberg. However, these minor criticisms aside, there was lavish praise for the performances of “alarmingly bewigged” Les Dennis and the “compellingly bizarre” Mel Giedroyc. And despite recognising the evening to be as “culturally significant as Dustin the Turkey”, Eurobeat’s “unpretentious” sense of fun led to more critical thumbs-up than ‘nul points’.
- by Theo Bosanquet