Fun At The Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!! review – Southwark Playhouse, London ★★★☆☆

Photo: Danny Kaan

Review by Natalie Evans

Arriving at the Southwark Playhouse just in time for summer, Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp is a brand new musical from dynamic duo Martin Landry and Brandon Lambert. You can tell from a mile off that this was directed by the same mind that brought us The Play That Goes Wrong and A Comedy about a Bank Robbery as Mark Bell is back at it again here with his trademark silly stage shenanigans in another outrageous slapstick comedy.

Self described as Grease meets Squid Game, Fun at the Beach – Romp – Bomp – a – Lomp is a parody, doupe jukebox musical, with a generous amount of well-known songs set to slightly different melodies and lyrics.

The plot centres around a bunch of happy go lucky American youngsters competing to be crowned King or Queen of the beach. Set in an exaggerated 1950s style alternate reality, the characters are caricatures of themselves; completely archetypical and only just scraping two dimensional. Considering this was the artistic vision though, the cast did an excellent job executing this, portraying these melodramatic personas with consistency and impressive amounts of energy. In fact, the entirety of the piece was very cohesive in this choice, from the cardboard sets to the color coded costumes and blatantly on-the-nose lighting design.

There were several moments of genuine laugh out loud humour throughout, mostly within the musical moments. For example, It’s in his peck had me cackling, primarily due to the flawless performance from Katie Oxman as Chickie. However, many of the jokes had me groaning rather than giggling. Most notably, the incessant bird references. I appreciate the point of the noises, or calls I guess I should say, were to be an annoying trait, but they were REALLY annoying. Painfully so. As was the sheer amount of repetition.

Photo: Danny Kaan

Generally, there is a rule of 3 in comedy that one can easily adhere to and get a good response. Making a joke big, bigger, then biggest is usually effective, but this show milked every last molecule out of their punchlines. Unfortunately this meant that, as the show went on, the gags increasingly felt like they were beating an already very dead (sea)horse. Additionally, they got more and more unnecessarily nonsensical, with the fish daughter subplot in particular being a step too far into the ridiculous for me.

Then, the context for the piece was both under and over developed somehow. The ending brought in the idea that the world was ending, but also that these characters were meta theatrically inside a musical. I didn’t get it, and found it quite a cheap cop out, when they could have left it as an unidentified reality.
There is a time and a place for this piece though. It is the kind of play that you want to see with a few friends on a Friday night after a few drinks, to simply let your brain switch and enjoy some pure entertainment.

Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp is at Southwark Playhouse (Borough) until 22 June 2024