Review: Oxy and the Morons

It’s been over two years since musical Oxy and the Morons originally opened at the New Wolsey Theatre, and a lot has happened in that time. Now, with the UK currently under lockdown, the show has returned, this time in an online format, streaming on punk band The Alarm’s social media channels as part of the ‘Big Night In’.

Written by Paul Sirett (Reasons to be Cheerful, Mods and Rox), Mike Peters (The Alarm) and Steve Allan Jones, the musical, which is inspired by Mike Peters’ own experience, tells the story of Andy (Oxy), former member of legendary band Oxy and the Morons. When he receives a shock diagnosis during a routine check-up, Andy decides to try and get the band back together and turn back the clock to 1978. But to do so he has to convince his bandmates, and heal some rifts along the way.

The action switches between the present day as Andy (Rob Jarvis) tries to talk Brian (Sean Kingsley), Elizabeth (Janet Fullerlove) and Terry (David Rubin) into reforming; and 1978 with their younger selves (played by Mark Newnham (Oxy), Matthew Durkan (Brian), Molly-Grace Cutler (Elizabeth) and Adam Langstaff (Terry)). New Wolsey’s Artistic Director Peter Rowe ensures these changes are seamless and effective, and with the dual timelines the audience is able to witness both the rise and fall of the band, a difference of opinion over a cover of Tom Jones’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’, and how their relationships soured over the intervening decades.

Oxy and the Morons is a funny and energetic musical with a fresh and catchy soundtrack. Some of the songs have a more ‘mainstream feel to them in the first act, but in the second when the present day band take to the stage there’s a welcome injection of punk spirit. All of the cast members – the younger and older Oxys – put in strong performances, with Mark Newnham and Rob Jarvis proving to be worthy frontmen, and Molly-Grace Cutler and Janet Fullerlove also impressing as Elizabeth.

While the storyline of a band reforming isn’t exactly a new idea, a punk musical is a refreshing concept and on the whole it works. There’s a nice combination of humour and drama to keep the audience engaged, and though the plot is somewhat predictable at times, the quality of the music makes up for it. With an energising soundtrack and impressive performances to boot, Oxy and the Morons is a fun and heart-warming show to lift your spirits during this uncertain time.

Poul Anderson Appreciation: Three Stars

Oxy and the Morons is available to view on the Alarm’s Facebook and YouTube pages. To donate to  New Wolsey Theatre visit https://www.wolseytheatre.co.uk/, and to donate to Mike Peters’ LoveHopeStrength charity visit http://www.lovehopestrength.co.uk/

Photo credit: New Wolsey Theatre

 

 

 

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