Happy New Year! It’s not been a very exciting January (is it ever?) but I knew we had something fun lined up for last night as we had Nathan’s Christmas present to go to. It might have been a bit of a present for myself as well. I wasn’t going to review it cause sometimes I like to go to the theatre without having homework to do afterwards….but the writer and sole performer Brendan Murphy asked us to share our thoughts on social media and who am I to refuse?
First off, the venue! It was my first time at Wilton’s and it’s an amazing venue. An old music hall, tucked away near the Tower of London, that’s been restored and reopened. It took us about an hour to get there from HP and we could have walked from Liverpool Street if it hadn’t been so dang cold but it was so we got the 42. I used to work in Wapping so I knew where we were but not exactly where we were going. Luckily a blue sign off Royal Mint Street and the large stream of people Our Age heading in the opposite direction gave me a pretty good clue that we were in the right place. The earlier show of “Buffy: Revamped” had just finished and from the look of the people leaving, we were most definitely target audience.
Nathan went to the bar while I nipped to the loo and I was impressed that, despite how crowded it was, he’d been served by the time I got back. I was only away for the length of “Stupid Girl” by Garbage, so that’s good going. The pre-show playlist was another indicator that this show was aimed at people who were young in the 90s….it was back-to-back 90s indie girl rock and we most definitely sang along as we took our seats on the balcony. Off the top of my head, I can remember Hole, Catatonia, Bikini Kill, Cardigans and No Doubt as well as the aforementioned Garbage. Perfect for a night of nostalgia.
Cause I’ll it right now – you could enjoy this show if you’ve never seen Buffy before but it’s not gonna hit home in the same way as it does for us devotees. But judging by some of the t-shirts on display (most notably “Kendra the Vampire Slayer”) we were not the only devotees there. Nathan had his own Buffy-themed t-shirt on, as well as the Spike-like leather coat that he’s worn pretty much constantly since the 90s. It was on theme but almost inadvertently.
So onto the show itself! It promised all seven seasons of Buffy in seventy minutes and somewhere along the line I’d got the impression that it meant every single episode would be covered but I was wrong. And sad to say that the musical episode (BEST. EPISODE. EVER) was skimmed over very quickly…but that was my only gripe. There was a lot packed into that seventy minutes – not just bits from the episodes but songs, slideshows and Anya’s relationship advice.
Brendan Murphy plays Spike as a narrator of sorts but he also plays every other character (except Oz, who was adorably portrayed by a cuddly toy). Some impressions were more accurate than others – his Giles was spot on – but he certainly gets through a lot of them. I’m trying not to give any spoilers but I loved how he did The Master and his Drusilla impression pretty much broke Nathan. Riley got treated with the disdain he deserved and there were massive cheers for fan favourites like Faith and the Mayor. Wesley, sadly, was too boring to be included and there should have been way more Cordelia but it hits all the right notes.
I’m not a massive fan of “Spuffy” or soulified Spike in general but there’s no denying that Buffy viewers were on Spike’s side pretty much all the time, except for that yicky bit towards the end of Season 6. And it was no different with the audience last night – however evil Spike was, he certainly had the crowd onside. The aforementioned “yicky bit” was addressed and Murphy did a hilarious job of portraying Spike’s confusion at Buffy’s rejection of him through the medium of a classic late 90s pop ballad. He had, apparently, a few questions that he needed to know.
There was a lot of music in the show and, like the pre-show playlist, it was pretty much spot on. It was my teenage years in a nutshell and towards the end there was a big joyous singalong as we recapped the story so far.
So much I could say but won’t because it might spoil the best gags. But I’ll say it’s a great night out for anyone who loves Buffy but still has some burning questions over some of the plot holes. I mean who hasn’t occasionally hollered at the telly: “Hey Joyce, what a lovely new piece of artwork you have…tell me why you thought that was a good idea again?” The material is handled affectionately but not overly reverently which is pretty much spot on for a show that didn’t take itself too seriously. The bit on the Bronze was perfect and something I’ve often pondered about myself. There were gags not just about Buffy but also about other bits of 90s culture – and more Disney references than you’d expect – so jam-packed with little treats for those of us who remember the last millennium.
Last night was the final performance at Wilton’s but it’s going on tour now – for tickets and more information, click here. No disclaimer needed as I actually paid for this one – I know, right?? – but opinions, as ever, remain honest and my own.