Dougal Irvine's Departure Lounge has had a long journey to London, making stops in Edinburgh and New York before finally arriving at the brand-new Waterloo East Theatre. This staging brings with it a surprisingly starry cast with Verity Rushworth (Sophie), Chris Fountain (JB) and Steven Webb's (Ross) television credits all very noticeable on their resumes.
Minimally staged - it doesn't take much to replicate the tin sheds Ryanair flies from around Europe - and with musical accompaniment provided by just two guitars, Departure Lounge doesn't fit into the mould of the 'typical musical', with a raw rowdiness few would be brave enough to pair with song-driven narrative. The four sunburnt lads, fresh from a week of adolescent frolics on the Costa Del Sol, recount their stories of conquest with varying degrees of drink-addled confusion and misremembering in a series of flashbacks featuring the object of nearly all of their desires: Sophie.
Irvine's songs are what really make this piece, a number of his ballads more than strong enough to stand alone in their own right. Liam Tamne is given the chance to really show off vocally with his delivery of "Secret" and Jack Shalloo's performance of "Picturebook" brings a vulnerability to the piece that's greatly needed, cementing the realisation that, all heart-breaking and hell-raising aside, this is a group of young boys who've done a lot of growing up in their week abroad.
The scenes between the songs are what sometimes let the piece down. When the more clever laddish banter runs out, the dialogue too often resorts to reflecting on the week the boys have had - generally summed up and saved by an innuendo-clad one-liner. The musical's rousing final number, when the quartet grasp how they've grown up and somewhat grown apart, is almost enough to polish over all of the earlier rough edges, and is another fine example of the cast really finding their inner teenagers.