The Choir of Man, Arts Theatre | Review

Friday 12 November 2021

The Choir of Man 
Arts Theatre 
Reviewed on Thursday 11th November 2021 by Olivia Mitchell 

Nine men, a pub, singing, dancing and amazing energy levels, The Choir of Man is an absolute treat of a show that's ready to entertain audiences this year at the Arts Theatre. Following three sell-out seasons at the Sydney Opera House and various US and European tours, a West End debut seems like the natural next step and how lucky we are that it's found a home in London where it can spread musical joy every evening.

Set in your average pub (The Jungle), the show follows nine individuals as they discuss aspects of their lives and share their stories with one another in a sort of beer filled utopia. The show features a number of reimagined classic songs such as Sia's Chandelier, The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha, Somebody to Love and many more. Every single number is performed expertly by the performers and you're constantly waiting for the next song to start and wrap you up in its harmony filled embrace.

What's so wonderful about this show is the simplicity of it. The basic set includes a bar, some tables and the band set up on a higher level. The costumes are everyday clothes and aside from some glasses and the occasional other item, there are no props. This is a show which really relies on its cast to carry it and they do so with an ease and grace that only comes with innate musicality. It's wonderful to experience such powerful harmonies without any gimmicks overshadowing them. One aspect which must be mentioned though, is Richard Dinnen's lighting design which works perfectly with the songs and helps evoke the various moods throughout.

The only flaw with The Choir of Man is that there isn't really any story or through line to the songs. Whilst it's great that each moment is a snapshot into one of the men's lives, it would be nice if there was a little more plot to tie everything up and round it out. However, credit must go to Ben Norris who plays The Poet and also wrote the monologues which open and close the show and are dotted throughout. These moments are funny, moving and so well performed. Ben is really a masterful storyteller and is completely enthralling.

In fact, the whole cast and band are first-rate. They work smoothly both individually and as a team and really make you feel like you're on a night out with a group of friends.

The energy of this show is really like nothing else on in the West End. Each moment was a sucker punch of emotion or musical brilliance and the whole audience seemed to be buzzing throughout. If you want feel-good, The Choir of Man is the show for you! The cast seems to so genuinely enjoy performing and it really shows and helps make the experience so uplifting and welcoming. This show is a perfect reminder of the importance of community, a message which couldn't be more prevalent now, and it's well worth a visit (and probably a repeat visit) for a night of carefree fun.

Photo credit: Helen Maybanks