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Review: Theatre

I Can't Sing

I Can't Sing

London Palladium

William Russell

This limp musical comedy makes the late, unlamented Viva Forever seem like something by Sondheim. Written by Harry Hill, the hugely popular comedian, with music by Steve Brown, it attempts to send up the X Factor and could have been, but is not, our Book of Mormon.

Had it appeared in the heyday of the X Factor when Simon Cowell ruled over Saturday night TV, it might have been topical, but, although some of Hill's barbs hit home, most land with a dull thud somewhere in the wings.

The show, while amiable enough, is pointless and dated. Cowell, oozing self-love and claiming to be "fabulous", is played to the hilt by Nigel Harman. Being a strapping six footer, Harman is, however, more the man Cowell sees himself as than the man he really is. Hill's plot concerns an orphaned singer called Chenice (Cynthia Erivo), who thinks she can't sing, but of course she can, and her very dull plumber boyfriend Max (Alan Morrisey), who can't, both X Factor finalists.

Erivo has a terrific voice and a good stage presence but the songs she is given are dire.

Part of the problem with the show is that Simon and his chums do not surface until Act Two, an odd decision in a work designed to send them all up.

Hill is a scattergun comic on television so it is no great surprise this is a hit and miss affair with far too many misses. On the plus side Chenice has a talking dog, a puppet manipulated and nicely voiced by Simon Lipkin, who falls in love with Simon; Cheryl Cole gets spit-roasted by Victoria Elliot as judge called Jordy; and there is a hunchback contestant with what all talent show competitors need: a good back story.

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