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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wallis

Bluff the Musical (Radio Review)

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

If the last 18 months or so of enforced closures and social distancing has taught us anything, it is that theatre does not have to be confined to a stage. Theatre, as an artform, can be performed practically anywhere, can be constructed to be enjoyed in various ways and as it turns out, you don’t need to be in a theatre to enjoy a show. ‘Bluff,’ a new musical with a book by Matthew Cavendish (Groan Ups, Mischief Movie Night In, The Play That Goes Wrong) and music and lyrics by Ed Zanders (Mischief Movie Night In, Piaf), was written especially for radio, perfect to be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.

‘Bluff’ tells the surreal story of Alec Bonum (Ryan Kopel), a young man growing up in a town called Paradise. He is a good and honest person who just wants to make his family proud by looking after the town’s library, but with many of those around him lying their way to the top, can he say true to his own truthful ways whilst facing up to his own troubling past?

From the start, we are introduced to a plethora of madcap characters who appear to firmly believe that lying can get you anywhere and help you to achieve exactly what you want. Sweet and honest Alec comes face to face with this idea when he must compete for a job against Shirley Judge (Bobbie Little) and her overbearing urge to reach the top. With him and his father Erol (Alan Cox) living on the breadline whilst the Shirley and her parents Marion (Alex Young) and Laurie Judge (Jeremy Lloyd) plot to reach ultimate power in Paradise, ‘Bluff’ makes you both support underdog Alec and hope that the Judge’s learn the error of their ways.

The cast work wonders to bring their characters to life, so much so that you can easily picture them as if watching them on stage. The characters have big bold personalities, each one unique with their own story to tell. Alongside Alec, Shirley, Marion, Erol and Laurie, we also meet Fiona Bonum (Paula James) and many other Paradise residents played by members of the cast including the piece’s book writer Matthew Cavendish.

Zander’s music and lyrics are catchy and fun, with a song about Alec’s heartfelt memories packing an emotional punch. They are witty and clever, suiting the larger-than-life story to a tee and evoking the imagination of the listeners. Cavendish’s book is comical and punchy, adding a new twist to the classic underdog story as we will Alec on to succeed his dreams. Without giving too much away, we did find the ending perhaps a little abrupt which was a little bit odd and sudden if we are being honest but perhaps this is intentional, leaving the audience both wanting and hoping for more.

Full of twists and turns, ‘Bluff’ is proof that new writing talents are emerging, bringing musical theatre into a new age. Even when just sat at home listening, it provides the escapism that we so easily associate with theatre as you imagine the characters living through this surreal story of the power of lies and truth. You can listen to ‘Bluff’ on for a small fee and find out more about the show from creatives Matthew Cavendish and Ed Zander’s here

This review also appears on West End Best Friend and this review was written and originally shared here ahead of public release through press access

Images found via Google, not my own


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