Written by Mark Trevorrow & Bill Harding.
Musical Direction by John Thorn.
Her Majesty’s Theatre. 27-30 April 2011.
World War Bob is a musical review that takes a humorous look at war through the songs that were popularised in various theatres of war, ranging from the Crimea through the two world wars through to Vietnam. But, in inimitable Mark Trevorrow style, there is always a sting in the humour and sacred cows are slaughtered one after the other at the merciless hands of his polyester-clad alter ego Bob Downe.
Trevorrow is a huge comic talent, about that there is no doubt, but this show was a little uneven at the start and relied too much on the Bob Down persona. The material was a little thin, but maybe the musical material coming out of the Crimean War and and the Maori Land Wars of the 1850s is not that memorable!
The show hit its straps when young musician Jeremy Hopkins gave a beautifully sung and highly expressive ‘Lilli Marlene’. It was replete with vocal ornamentation that was well controlled unlike many singers of his generation who seem to pride themselves in murdering songs through ill handled vocal gymnastics.
Bob sang and minced his way through dozens of songs with exaggerated vowel sounds, gritted smiles, sparkling eyes and witty banter with lots of cutting local references. At times it is all as camp as a .... a row of (soldier’s) tents! He was joined by the fabulously talented Jane Markey who played several roles, including Mrs Ida Downe—Bob’s mother—who led a spirited sing along towards the end of the 90 minute show and the entire audience joined in, and they loved it.
As himself in front of the grand curtain at the end of the show, Trevorrow remarks that it is curious that we so easily remember war songs when surely it would be better that there was no need to write them in the first case. A poignant moment, and the audience applauded one last time.
World War Bob is definitely worth seeing!
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