Rehab the Musical at Neon 194 Review: Struggles to Find Its Narrative Harmony

Thursday 18 January 2024

Rehab the Musical
Wyndham's Theatre

Written by Elliot Davis with music and lyrics from Grant Black and Murray Lachlan Young, Rehab the Musical follows 26-year-old pop star, Kid Pop (Christian Maynard), who finds himself in court, after being caught red handed in a drug fuelled tabloid sting. A judge gives Kid the choice between jail time or a rehabilitation centre for six weeks. Kid chooses to go the Glade rehab centre where he meets a host of characters and has to face some harsh realities about himself.

The musical tries to seamlessly weave together an array of elements that, unfortunately, leave the overall production feeling a bit scattered. The emotional journey is a rollercoaster, evoking heartfelt moments that pull at the audience's heartstrings, only to be swiftly followed by chaotic, feverish musical interludes that seem to materialise out of thin air. This tonal inconsistency gives rise to an emotional whiplash, making it a bit challenging for the audience to fully immerse themselves in the unfolding narrative.

Amidst the theatrical mosaic are intriguing plot line crumbs, teeming with the potential for impactful developments. Regrettably, these narrative threads are left hanging, never fully explored or developed. The overarching structure of the production yearns for a more streamlined approach, as the multitude of introduced ideas creates an unfocused and somewhat in-cohesive storyline. The musical teeters between being sincere and heartfelt, whilst also really leaning in to over the top humour, a balance which in this instance doesn't quite work.

However, within the ebb and flow of its narrative, Rehab the Musical has some luminous moments. The production sparkles with genuinely hysterical instances and unforgettable one-liners, thanks to the standout comedic performances by Keith Allen (Malcolm Stone) and Jodie Steele (Beth Boscombe). Steele's solo number is particularly striking, a testament to her vocal prowess, even though the character she portrays lacks the nuanced depth required for a fully rounded portrayal.

The undeniable chemistry between Maiya Quansah-Breed (Lucy Blakeand Christian Maynard (Kid Pop) adds a dreamy allure to the stage. Both actors deliver performances that resonate, yet the dialogue between their characters falls short of allowing for a fully realised emotional connection. That being said, their duets and solos are truly some of the high points of the show, with vocals that float and soar around the venue.

Commendation is due to the set design (Simon Kenny), which functions seamlessly in the round. Stairs metamorphose into drawers, and a minimalist aesthetic facilitates smooth scene transitions, preventing the physical aspects of the production from feeling cumbersome. It's not particularly inventive or exciting but really works in the confines of the space. On the flip side, while the choreography (Gary Lloyd) offers visual interest from every angle, it fails to weave itself significantly into the overarching action or storyline, missing an opportunity to enhance the narrative through movement.

Mica Paris, once again, graces the stage with a stellar vocal performance but finds herself in a role that echoes with underdevelopment. Her undeniable talent radiates- especially in her duet with Maiya, Museum of Loss which is a true theatrical treat- but again, the character lacks the narrative depth necessary to fully showcase Paris's abilities.

A standout moment in the production is the glorious gospel song that concludes the first act Letters Goodbye/Don't Eat Your Feelings, etching itself into the collective memory of the audience. It underscores the musical's potential for powerful and emotionally resonant moments. 

While Rehab the Musical boasts strengths, including comedic brilliance, dreamy performances, and impressive set design, it falls short of deciding what sort of show it wants to be and fails to achieve a cohesive narrative.

Reviewed on Wednesday 17th January 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Mark Senior

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}