Rehab the Musical
Rating: ★★★★
Venue: Neon 194, London
Cast: Keith Allen, Christian Maynard, Mica Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed, Jodie Steele, John Barr, Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Simon Shorten, Rebecca Thornhill, Carly Burns, Ben Mabberley and Lucy Sinclair

Balancing comedy with the heart-breaking truth that the drugs don’t work, Rehab the Musical will sweep you up on an emotional journey with a stunning musical score that brilliantly accompanies a timeless and universal story about striving to change our lives for the better, and that just for today, we'll be ok.

Entering Piccadilly 194, it’s been turned into a pop-up theatre for this production and we’re taken back to 1999. International music star, Kid Pop (Christian Maynard), finds himself in a bit of trouble following some paparazzi photos of him. He is ordered to spend 60 days in ‘The Glade’; a rehab centre. And though he is averse to treatment at first, he soon comes round and forms bonds with the residents who help him navigate the straight and narrow path through life. Kid has to face some hard truths and learns that maybe those he thought had his best interests at heart were not as behind him as he had hoped. His manager Malcolm (Keith Allen) has in fact orchestrated Kid’s entire downfall and continues to pull the puppet strings even from outside the rehab facility.

Written by Elliot Davis, with music and lyrics by Grant Black and Murray Lachlan Young, this is a powerful new British musical which focuses on the transformative journey of redemption and self-discovery. With hilarious songs such as ‘Wanker’ and ‘The Cheese Song’, along with heart-breaking ballads ‘Ordinary Girl’ and ‘Museum of Loss’, this show really is an emotional rollercoaster. You go from howling laughing to bawling your eyes out in a matter of moments and each transition is more wonderfully crafted than the last.

It would be easy to make this show a parody and for the people to become caricatures of ‘addicts’ but every story has been written with the utmost respect and they show us all facets of each person; their insecurities, failures and successes. This is something clearly important to the creatives of the piece as they have put a lot of focus on honouring each character and not chastising them for their addictions.

Maiya Quansah-Breed truly is a standout performer in this show. Playing Lucy, an exotic dancer who is sent into Rehab to feed information back to the evil Malcolm. Maiya has incredible vocal talent which she is given the opportunity to show off several times over the course of the evening. Particularly in what can only be described as a ‘belt off’ with Mica Paris, during the intense ballad ‘Museum of Loss’.

One unexpected twist comes in the character of Phil, an over-eating gambling addict played by Oscar Conlon-Morrey. Oscar is absolute incredible in this role, and shows off his diverse skills as an actor; starting out as a stony-faced male, before this softens and we get to the vulnerable side of Phil who reveals their deepest secrets to us, and it is not something we would expect. We are also treated to hearing Oscar’s beautiful singing voice, with an impressive range and depth, it’s beautiful to listen to.

One small downfall of the piece is the choice to stage it in the round, with audience on all four sides. This does mean at times some lines are lost by certain areas and therefore only half a room is laughing at a punchline while the other half are left bewildered. This does also mean at times the emotional moments are not as impactful as they deserve to be. Future iterations of the production would benefit from a more traditional staging as everything else feels so strong, it’s a shame to be missing parts due to your chosen seat.

I would recommend this show to anyone looking for a thought-provoking show with lots of laughs and warmth included too.

You can book tickets to see Rehab the Musical at Neon 194, here.

Written by Rosie Browne

**photo credit to Mark Senior**

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