REVIEW: 2 BECOME 1 (Kings Head Theatre) ★★

2 Become 1: The 90s Pop Musical was created by Kerrie Thomason and Natasha Granger based on the music they grew up with. A love letter to 90’s girl power, the musical features music from All Saints, B*Witched, Shania Twain, Cher, Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears and The Spice Girls among others. Following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Swipe Right Theatre has brought their production to the Kings Head Theatre promising to explore “the impact of the sexual revolution of girl power and how the way men and women date now.”

The musical centres around Jess who has just been dumped by her perfect man. Tired of seeing Jess cry over her taped copy of Titanic, her three friends take her out to try the newest fad: speed dating according to Cosmopolitan magazine. As they meet many Mr Wrongs and Mr Rights, the audience is offered a selection of 90s hits to bop along to.

2 Become 1 is set simply with four sparkly boxes, holding props that the four actors use during the show. Playing heartbroken ‘Jess’ is Natasha Granger and her four friends are Jessica Brady as ‘Amanda’, Eliza Hewitt-Jones as ‘Charlie’ and Kerri Thomason as ‘Molly’. As the audience enters Natasha Granger’s ‘Jess’ sits onstage crying while screening her phone calls before launching into the first song Never Ever by the All Saints. I commend Granger for staying in character, onstage, utterly miserable while the audience entered for at least an awkward ten minutes. As ‘Amanda’ Jessica Brady was suitably the nervous best friend, her vocal performance of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You was a highlight of the show. As super confident dating expert ‘Charlie’, Eliza Hewitt-Jones offered a solid performance and as ‘Charlie’ Kerri Thomason gave a hilarious performance as that off-beat, random friend everyone has.

Growing up in the 90’s, I ugly-cried with Dawson, fought off demons with Buffy, witnessed the rise and fall of the girls of Spice, smashed my personal best playing snake on my ‘brick’ Nokia mobile and embraced the revival of flared denim jeans and chokers. 2 Become 1: The 90s Pop Musical should have been a show that made me relive my 90’s teenage angst with nostalgic silly fun. Sadly this wasn’t the case. At moments the show offered insight into how dating has changed since the 90s with real voice overs from random men collected from local pubs, however these were often played over applause and the audience missed what was being said. The script was funny with many throwback references, however I expected the girl group to empower heartbroken ‘Jess’ with their feel good attitudes and songs, however was let down when ‘Jess’ explained she was still just as sad at the end of the show.

Bespoke backing tracks were made for the production, however they sounded very tinny and remindeded me of the badly made You Sing The Hits karaoke CDs from the 90s, which can’t have been the intention, right? The vocal performances offered did little to assuage the karaoke feeling and while harmonies were used to some effect, a more powerful vocal performance from the actors would have created a more joyous nostalgic and fun show.

At just sixty minutes, 2 Become 1 is the perfect fit for a late night trip down memory-lane after a couple (or more than a couple) of drinks. As a 90s kid, I really wanted to enjoy 2 Become 1 and can see the show working in another production. An expanded script, stronger vocal, a small live band and a stronger direction would elevate the show from pub fun and give it substance; a show you’d surely shake your Furby at!

Reviewed by Stuart James

2 BECOME 1 plays at the Kings Head Theatre until 7 January 2017

REVIEW: 2 BECOME 1 (Edinburgh Underbelly 2016) ★