The eponymous part is, rather strangely, played by the multi-talented Donna King, who manages her transsexual role pretty well as she sings and dances up a storm. The question is however, why is Frank played by a girl? This is never explained, but it really doesn’t matter - it all adds to the fun. After all, cross-dressing is the order of the day and it is always a treat to see King doing practically anything.
Nevertheless this is much more a showcase for the very impressive work of Carl Mullaney, who plays Marie Lloyd, Julie Andrews, Ethel Merman, Karen Carpenter, Judy Garland and Agnetha Faltskog in quick succession. Despite the wide diversity of his characters, he carries them all off with aplomb and often, brilliance.
Judy Garland launches in with “Let’s do the show right here” and manages somehow to be moving as well as hysterically funny in her torch song. Karen Carpenter - “as happy behind the drums as she was in chiffon” - comes on to sing, “When things fall apart”, a song that begins with the lyric, “I might as well be dead”. As Merman, Mullaney has one of the show’s most catchy songs, “A Mister and a Mister”, which we finish up singing all the way down Hoxton Street.
Wood has composed some very singable tunes and has a penchant for witty one-liners. In addition to the main characters there are three wonderfully energetic chorus girls played by Debbie McGee, Portia Emare and David Furnell, along with two gorgeous male dancers.
Frank’s Closet is a modern monument to old-fashioned camp, offering a touch of The Rocky Horror Show and more than a passing reference to the intimate revues of a more sophisticated bygone age.
The production values within this enchanting theatre space are quite stunning. India Banks’s costumes are amusing and appropriate for the burlesque nature of the show and the setting of a toy theatre within a theatre is a stroke of genius by designer Catherine Phelps.
- Aline Waites