Take That tribute memorable for all the wrong reasons

PUBLISHED: 20:33 27 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:06 07 September 2010

NEVER FORGET Savoy Theatre Two star rating Having never seen Mamma Mia or We Will Rock You, I am a relative newcomer to the phenomenon of musicals moulded around a pop group s greatest hits. You can see the commercial logic of diehard fans stumping up t

NEVER FORGET

Savoy Theatre

Two star rating

Having never seen Mamma Mia or We Will Rock You, I am a relative newcomer to the phenomenon of musicals moulded around a pop group's greatest hits.

You can see the commercial logic of diehard fans stumping up to hear their band's favourite songs woven into a new dramatic narrative.

But the reality - if Never Forget is anything to go by - is artistically and emotionally moribund.

Stretching a paper-thin conceit to fit a handful of tunes by a cheesy 90s boy band is surely the apotheosis of this cynical, money-grubbing genre.

It manages to be both heartless and sentimental as it slickly pushes the appropriate buttons in the smattering of dialogue that wraps around the big song 'n' dance set pieces.

Underdogs Ash, Jake, Adrian, Harry and Jose are each handed a one-dimensional character trait and motivation for wanting to make a go of their Take That tribute band.

You can see it coming a mile off when talented Ash ditches his mates and fiance to go solo as soon as record company vixen Annie comes on the scene.

"I jes wanted to mek sommat of meself," he bleats, before returning at the 11th hour to storm the talent competition, win the £10,000 prize money, and the hand of squeaky Chloe the disapproving girlfriend.

"Never forget where you're coming from," croon the cast - including a white-clad children's choir - as Ash returns to his Mancunican roots.

There are moments of earthy wit, excellent vocals from the five boys, and a succession of busy full cast numbers - a high energy Latino-influenced bar scene, a vaguely bondage routine, and one with umbrellas and macs as the falling rain spells Never Forget (the closest the evening comes to a coup de theatre).

But it all feels rather ground out in the service of delivering up the expected hits - and the characterisation is so undernourished that the relationships can only trade on a mawkish superficiality.

As for the audience of mostly tanked-up women, they responded appropriately by treating the whole event as a concert - cat calling the performers, talking through the dialogue and leaping to their feet for their favourite hits.

Never Forget? This was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Until further notice.

Bridget Galton


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