Arts Theatre – until 23 June 2018
I’ve never felt as lukewarm about a show as I do this one. Ruthless! wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t good. Overall the cast is strong, the songs are pretty catchy and there are moments of humour, but I really can’t describe it as anything else but “meh”, which is annoying because I really did want to enjoy it.
Ruthless! follows a young girl Tina Denmark who wants to be a star and will do anything in her power to achieve it. Her mother is a typical generic housewife who does everything she’s meant to do and never anything self-indulgent. Then we have Sylvia St. Croix, the talent scout, agent, ever present ‘pusher’ who comes out of nowhere and stays for the duration of the show.
The story is genuinely funny (at points) and although predictable, it is entertaining to see this camp, spoofed, mixed-up story played out. But there’s just something which doesn’t work. Satire is used cleverly, especially with Tina’s mum in the opening number, and I enjoyed spotting the musical theatre references such as Mame and Sunset Boulevard, but there’s only so much repetition of jokes one person can take.
As for the cast, they’re strong and entertaining. Our Tina Denmark who perfectly portrayed the stagey maniac was Anya Evans. Anya’s performance is stellar and she really was born to be on the stage. Her determination mixed with her psychotic side is extremely entertaining to watch and I would gladly go back just to see her again.
Ever the audience favourite, Tracie Bennett is great as theatre critic, Lita Encore. Although the drunken swagger is somewhat cringey, she give a fabulous performance and commands the stage during ‘I Hate Musicals’.
The name of the show, Jason Gardiner is good but generic. His camp, audacious Sylvia St. Croix is fun to watch but not shocking in any way. I get that the whole thing is a sort of parody but it would have been great to have a touch more originality with the way he plays the role.
As the mother, Judy Denmark, Kim Maresca is wonderful. Her embodiment of the role is cheesy but not too over the top and her voice wows, especially in act 2. Harriet Thorpe is suitably biting whilst Lara Denning is sharp and witty.
This show isn’t a masterpiece but while I wasn’t the biggest fan, I know others who will lap it up. There’s certainly a market for this over the top, zany, crude show and I can see it doing well but for me it just needs some tweaking to take it from “meh” to something special.