The Stripper ****

Computer glitch.  Here’s a review I’d actually written back in October but just now realised wasn’t posted.

The Stripper is a fun-filled musical mystery that harkens back to such classic film noir’s like The Big Sleep and Chinatown.  Written by both Richard O’Brien and Richard Hartley (the team behind Rocky Horror), the musical is both a loving spoof and a respectful celebration of the pulp detective genre.

The story is taken by a novel written by Carter Brown (an alias for Alan G Yates) and is filled with as many detective clichés one can shake a stick at.  We have the down on his luck but true at heart detective who has ‘a way’ with women, a damsel in distress, a loud boss who wants things wrapped up, a conspiracy involving many so-called ‘model citizens’, a good girl gone bad and a bunch of plot twists that add up to a major gun fight.

I could probably give a better description of the plot, but really what’s the point.  As with many mysteries, half the fun is in discovering what exactly is happening.  All I will say is that it is a whole lot of fun and, unlike many noirs, actually sort of makes sense in the end.

And the production is great.  Director Bob Carlton has seamed together a production that is playful and energetic.  It feels much grander than it actually is, and that’s down to not only Carlton’s staging but some rather clever design concepts and some great performances.

But the real stand outs are O’Brien and Hartley.  Every song that they have composed is filled with catchy lyrics and tunes, and they offer great material to the production company.  Though none of the songs quite match Rocky Horror, there are some real gems, including Deadpan Dolores, A Man of Steel, Planning My Big Exit and what just might be the best musical number I’ve seen this year, I Confess.

The Stripper is actually a reworking of a production that was performed a few decades back, and it would be an absolute shame if it didn’t have a life past this short tour.  It may not have the potential of becoming the cultural behemoth that Rocky Horror has become, but with its loving tribute to a well-regarded genre and collection of excellent songs, The Stripper certainly deserves to have a life well past this production.

Tour completed.

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