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Psycho Beach Party (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Taurus
Where: Manchester

Vertigo Theatre Productions bring the UK première of two plays by American writer Charles Busch to the tiny theatre space within Taurus Bar. The first - reviewed here is Psycho Beach Party, is a camp homage to the early
sixties and the teen beach movies of the era. The audience is taken back to a more innocent time played out to a soundtrack of The Beach Boys tracks.

Director Craig Hepworth has created a play with boundless energy and enjoyment. The plot is suitably camp; sixteen year old tomboy 'Chicklet', wants to surf, but surfing is a boy thing and she is left not quite fitting in anywhere.  However things take a sinister turn with a dangerous psychopath on the loose who knocks people out and shaves all their body hair.

The entire cast are all excellent and full of vitality. In such an enclosed space a dance number is tight, but the cast work around each other with skill. The small space works well for scenes where the characters are inside but does detract slightly from exterior scenes on the beach. 

The two shining lights, though, are the two male actors playing female characters, Brad Stoloff as Chicklet and Liam Grunshaw as Chicklet's mother. Both create stunning stereotypical characters - combining the humour of a man in drag with brilliant acting. Stoloff shows amazing physical expression but this is surpassed by his ability to change voice and body language at the flick of a switch.

Psycho Beach Party could never be considered as high brow entertainment, but if an evening of camp fun is appealing then you won't do better than this show.

- Helen Jones

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