Devised by: Andrea Sanders
Directed by: Andrea Sanders
Running at Circa Theatre until 7th Sep 2019
Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson
Cringe Worthy! is a musical hark back to the 1970s in New Zealand. Featuring two original members of The Beatgirls, Andrea Sanders and Carrie McLaughlin, alongside Tom Knowles and Jeff Kingsford-Brown, it’s a harmony-laden, tangerine-hued, bell-bottomed adventure through the songs and artists that dominated the decade.
I have to admit, I don’t know the first thing about the 70s. In fact, I was negative 22 years old when they rolled around! If you’re in my boat, don’t hesitate to see Cringe Worthy! because you don’t know the songs. I only recognised four, but that didn’t put a damper on my experience. Not only did I take great pleasure in the relentless cacophony of laughter emitting from audience members of an older generation, I also relished in learning more about the era. After listening to Spotify on my iPhone on the way to the theatre, hearing about the rip-roaring excitement New Zealanders experienced upon the introduction of a second TV channel was a real eye-opener.
Regardless of when you were born or how interested you are in the 70s, you’ll find the musical prowess on display in Cringe Worthy! extraordinary. Each performer brings something different to the table. Sanders has an incredible range, Kingsford-Brown huge power, Knowles a stunning falsetto, and McLaughlin wonderful stage presence. Though there aren’t many moments of acapella to really let the vocals shine and the backing tracks are sometimes a smidge loud, the four-part harmonies get right down to your soul.
It’s not all soul-stirring though; Cringe Worthy! features plenty of songs that are silly and fun, with glorious choreography to match. My friend emerged with a newfound favourite called Put Another Log on the Fire (so sexist it’s laughable), while I’m still humming Take the Money and Run (the epitome of cringe worthy).
Lucas Neal’s groovy, attention-grabbing set (those lava lamps! That tweed sofa!) is the perfect backdrop for Cringe Worthy!, a superb show overflowing with talent and joy.