The Choir of Man at London Wonderground – review
The upside-down cow heads to Earl's Court with this musical extravaganza as a main attraction
Ah, it's nice to be sat in an upside-down purple cow's belly again. Fringe festivals such as London Wonderground (in its new home in Earl's Court) have been sorely missed this past year and a half, and The Choir of Man is the epitome of a fringe show. It's the kind of experience you go to because you think you know the kind of vibe it's going to be, but are somehow still surprised at how well-executed it all is. An added bonus: you get to spend an hour clapping and singing (the group give permission to do this, of course).
Created and directed by Nic Doodson, The Choir of Man has performed internationally and at various festivals over the last five or so years, but this run of shows at London Wonderground is their first time in London. Set in a local pub called "The Jungle", the pre-show has the nine men handing out pints of beer to the audience on a paddle, chatting to punters and having banter on the stage.
When the show officially starts, we are given a poetic monologue about the pub, and how each man on the stage has their own story to tell – from one who's just been broken up with, to a bodybuilder and the barman who has been pulling pints at The Jungle since before time began. The monologues, scattered throughout the show, hammer home the idea about the pub as community, and how it has been absent during lockdowns. There's definitely something interesting in there, perhaps, about masculinity and sharing your feelings, but it's all caught up in the froth of the beer.
There's a great mix of songs performed from "The Impossible Dream" to "Some Nights" as well as plenty of audience interaction in songs such as a singalong to "500 Miles" and the spotlight being turned on someone in the front row during an acoustic rendition of "Teenage Dream". There's a cracking tap solo during "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover" (totally unexpected, and a total joy to watch) and a gorgeous arrangement of Sia's "Chandelier". In fact, there are too many good moments to mention, the harmonies are on point and the group is so full of charm you can't help but love them. Even when a trumpet solo during "The Pina Colada Song" goes awry, you can't help but laugh with them and forgive.
A 10/10 evening of enjoyment, reminding us all the fun of a good pub singalong. Hopefully, it won't be long before we can be up there on stage dancing with the Choir, too.