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Obama on My Mind

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Waking up with Obama on your mind? Me neither actually. Since the almighty election fuss and the much hyped inauguration, the superhero of American politics has disappeared rapidly from the British tabloids. But never fear, Teddy Hayes is here, with his comedy musical homage to the people behind the scenes: the weird and wonderful characters on the Obama campaign trail. Having been workshoped at the Baron’s Court Theatre Obama on My Mind now arrives in North London for its world premiere where it goes clunkety, clunkety, clunk with some poor directorial decisions and a worrying lack of storyline.

Uplifting and well choreographed as many of the songs are, there is a lack of direction that runs throughout the musical, with characters drifting about aimlessly like canapés at London Fashion Week, picking up threads of storylines here and there amid the poppy solo songs and comedy one liners.

The twelve strong cast are of varying levels of ability, with some fine musical and acting talent (particularly strong in Nicholas Drake and Ellen Verenieks) being let down by some severe over acting from Jackie Skarvellis as the fanatical campaign connoisseur and a lack of vocal power from Simone McIntyre in the title song. What the cast as a whole do bring to the stage is a great sense of energy which does its part to rescue the scattered script and leaves the audience with a spring in its step, all be it a rather unsatisfied one given that no one is quite sure just what they are springing from exactly.

Perhaps it is the workshop heritage of the piece, or perhaps it is its ambitious reach, with every character getting a chance to spill their heart over their election traumas, but in this case the promise and sparkle of the musical overwhelm what is essentially an office based comedy with a lot of loose ends.

-Kate Jackson


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