Yet this spectacularly silly and enjoyable musical by Eurofan Aussies Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson – first seen on the Edinburgh Festival fringe last year - manages to combine cheap laughs and cheap music in a joyous theatrical combustion. And because the audience votes for the winner on mobile telephones, we don’t even have the pleasure of hearing deathless phrases like “Good evening, Lichtenstein, can we have your votes please?” or “Here are the votes of the Paris jury: Norveige, nul points.”
We do have a brief appearance from Terry Wogan, though, who pops up on a giant screen to promise us a good evening: “I can say that because I’m not there.” By then we have been welcomed big time to Sarajevo and brought to our feet in a Mexican wave. Next, we practise waving our mini national flags that we have selected from the smiling ushers on our way in: my companion was for Iceland, I was cheering for Ireland.
Iceland’s entry was a terrifying Bjork-style love ballad performed by a former exotic dancer in a barrel-shaped tunic of dyed chicken feathers, while Ronan Corr for Ireland – apparently detached from the rest of his family songbirds – cut loose in a squelchy, melodic chorus of “La La La” which deservedly won the contest on the night for its total lack of originality.
There was stiff competition, mind you, from a hilarious robotic German entry in the Kraftwerk style, a Greek homage to Nana Mouskouri with the skimpily clad goddess Aphrodite consumed in flames (the least she deserved), and the KGBoyz from Russia – “new kids on the Eastern bloc” – glistening in their white latex gym suits as they performed, nay embodied, their “Ice Queen” counter-revolutionary composition.
Glynn Nicholas’s production, gloriously glib and tastelessly choreographed (that’s a compliment) by Natalie K Marsland and Andrew Hallsworth, is expertly compered by the inspirationally cast duo of Les Dennis as a grinning idiot Sergei in a shiny gold suit and a hairpiece crouching on top like a bedraggled stoat, and Mel Giedroyc – of television double act Mel and Sue – as gushing Boyka, who has thoughtfully incorporated facets of Bet Lynch and Nancy Dell’Olio into her turn of fake Eastern European promise. The whole show’s better, tackier and funnier than the real thing...who’d have thought it possible?
- Michael Coveney