Based on the hit 1970s film, the stage incarnation of Saturday Night Fever has returned to the West End after a regional tour. The main problem with this musical is it's not sure where its niche is. It partly wants to be one of the compilation musicals and emulate the success of Mamma Mia! or We Will Rock You - here of course the band represented is the Bee Gees - and there are hits aplenty. But Nan Knighton's stage adaptation is faithful to the film's plot and this becomes problematic because of it's dark undercurrent.
Set in the Brooklyn underground dance scene of the 1970s where racism and violence were rife, the young Tony Manero is trying to find his way. The Brooklyn bridge comes to represent his prison and also his possible escape, so it is impossible not to be moved when one of his friends poignantly commits suicide by jumping off it. But in this musical any drama, symbolism or depth are lost.
Add to this the character of DJ Monty (here played by Shaun Williamson of Eastenders fame) in the silliest of costumes with panto-esque lines and the whole thing becomes rather confused and confusing.
That said there is some fun to be had. Director and Choreographer Arlene Phillips has created some exciting numbers which the cast attack energetically, although David Sheilds' costumes are not quite authentic enough for my taste - more seventies with a 21st century slant.
All the performers are good, but they are just that, performers - not actors. Their singing and dancing cannot be faulted but when scenes come where dialogue and interaction are required any drama or comedy goes awry.
This is also true of Stephane Anelli who really gives his all as Tony Manero, the part immortalized on screen by John Travolta - large shoes to fill. Again in terms of slickness of performance Anelli is impressive and has Travolta's arrogant air. Unfortunately he's missing the vulnerability and depth necessary to really make this character whole.
The other big name in the cast is ex-Hear'say band member Kym Marsh whose singing voice is lovely but in the part of the used and abused Annette again lacks the acting ability necessary to make it work.
If you can forget the movie, overlook the lack of drama and ignore that irritating person singing along behind you then you are a more patient person than me, and this might be the show for you.