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Can’t Buy Me Love review at the Salisbury Playhouse – ‘energetic but patchy’

The cast of Can't Buy Me Love at Salisbury Playhouse. Photo: Richard Davenport The cast of Can't Buy Me Love at Salisbury Playhouse. Photo: Richard Davenport
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Kieran Buckeridge has spent the last three Christmases at Salisbury Playhouse in frocks and falsies as a pantomime dame.

This year, he moves into the Salberg studio space as himself for the theatre’s alternative seasonal offering Can’t Buy Me Love – one of a quartet of performers alongside Christine Holman, Susannah van den Berg and Tomas Wolstenholme, who can sing, play a multitude of instruments (I counted at least nine) and dance, all without breaking sweat.

It’s an energetic show built round the theme of money, referencing this year’s rags-to-riches Cinderella next door in the main house.

Love might be mentioned in the title but romance doesn’t get much of a look in: it’s all about hard cash, lots of it or lack of it, and how it makes the world go round.

Director Gareth Machin, who also devised the show with musical director Kate Edgar, strikes a rich seam musically, using some obvious material such as Big Spender and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but including lesser-known songs as well.

The music choice in the first half is patchy, although Buckeridge raises smiles with Monty Python’s Accountancy Shanty, and he and Holman do a splendid job on Flanders and Swann’s Design for Living.

There’s also a lovely rendition of Coward’s Poor Little Rich Girl (Van den Berg joining Buckeridge on this one).

The second half is full of goodies, from the poignant Lady of a Certain Age to the highly charged Brother Can You Spare a Dime?, and the whole thing looks a million dollars on Alex Marker’s gilded set with its giant dice, roulette wheel and financial graphs running round the gallery.

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Quartet of performers goes from rags to riches and back again in money-themed musical show