REVIEW: JEST END (Waterloo East Theatre) ★★★

thumbnail_jest-end-new-2016Now in its ninth year, Jest End is the musical theatre satire comedy show that pokes fun at the West End’s theatre scene. Nominated for the Best Comedy Award at the 2016 Wilma Awards, this is a show I have loved and laughed at many times over the years. I was excited to see what this years production had in store but was sadly left underwhelmed.

The classic songs from the show are there. Girls All Over Me (based on Electricity from Billy Elliot), Jest End Rebellion (Matilda), the hilarious Part Time Christine (Wishing I Was Somehow Here Again from Phanton of the Opera) and medleys from both Jersey Boys and Les Mis. The classic Wicked parody was sadly omitted from this years production which is a real shame as it is always one of the highlights.

The show felt bitty and a little unfinished in places, with short sharp bursts of songs that sometimes didn’t feel they were given enough time to get going. There was also a weird mixture of old and new shows turned in to medleys (the final song mixing Half A Sixpence with Mary Poppins was great but a little confusing). Jest End felt like it was coming more from the 2017 production with songs from Hamilton (yes I know we all know the songs but as we haven’t embraced the production in the West End yet it was hard to appreciate on stage) and a Gary Barlow parody about The Girls which again is not out until next year. At times I didn’t know who the characters were supposed to be (and I see a lot of theatre and so if I was left confused I don’t know what normal theatre goers will think). I did laugh at the short Ghost parody of poor Sarah Harding however!

I think last year we were spoilt with the creme de la creme of West End performers gracing the West End stage. Lizzy Connolly, Jodie Jacobs, Simon Bailey and Scott Garnham. All brilliant and well established in their own right. This year I wasn’t particularly familiar with any of the cast. Last year I said it was the girls who stole the show, this year it was the boys Adam Bailey and Daniel Buckley who gave the stand out performances. Jemma Alexander and Bronte Barbe were good but I’ve certainly laughed more in previous years.

Jest End is a marathon of a show to get through and so credit where credit is due. Sadly this year it all felt a bit unfinished and lacked the wow factor for me.

Reviewed by West End Wilma

JEST END plays at the Waterloo East Theatre until 18 December 2016