King’s Head Theatre, London – until 8 July 2017
“Paralysis sets in every time I try to sin.”
There’s something to admire in the King’s Head’s devotion to offering something different for the Upper Street theatregoer – diverse programming with a decided LGBT focus, late night slots to allow festival-friendly shows a moment in the capital and to attract perhaps a different kind of audience. With Holy Crap though, it feels like a bit of a swing and a miss.
An 8.45pm start time and a 2 hours 15 minutes run time are uneasy bedfellows at the best of times and sad to say, these are not the best of times. Written by The Heather Brothers (best known for A Slice of Saturday Night), Holy Crap aims squarely for cult status with its bad-taste scything through religious hypocrisy and (the lack of) media ethics but in all honesty, it struggles to get past the barely puerile.
Even thinking about the plot gives me second-hand embarrassment. US evangelist Reverend Bobby Del La Ray launches GOD-TV, Britain’s first pay-to-view religious channel, which soon flops but as he is having to launder money for the Sicilian mafia who are holding his mother hostage, he turns to the one thing that he believes will increase his audience – hardcore porn, with the rationale that people need to know what sin is in order to be saved from it.
But even that makes it sound better than it is, especially in the way it has been executed here. Characters are written as flimsily as the multitude of sub-plots that disappear in the blink of an eye have been constructed, the score is an anodyne pastiche of mid-20th century popular music which feels like a real mis-match but more crucially, suffers from the muddiest of sound designs that takes lyrical clarity and slaps it in the face with a dildo.
I love a trashy and fun musical as much as anyone, if not more, and in a festival mindset with a pint or two in hand, will sit through most anything for an hour or so. But Holy Crap tests that patience from the outset and as you enter its third hour, with the clock ticking past 11pm, you will find there is no God from any religion offering salvation from this holy mess.