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Three Guys Naked from the Waist Down at the Finborough review – ‘energetic performances’

Three Guys Naked from the Waist Down at the Finborough Three Guys Naked from the Waist Down at the Finborough
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In the 1980s, stand-up comedy was considered the new rock’n’roll and the New York comedy scene was one of the most fertile in the world. Jerry Colker and Michael Rupert’s musical uses this premise as the foundation for Three Guys Naked from the Waist Down, observing the formation of the three-man comedy troupe as they hit the big time. Essentially a backstage drama, Colker’s book and lyrics capture the vicissitudes of this particular American dream with surprising sensitivity, while Rupert’s impressive score punctuates ballads and production numbers with a rap narrative.

Performed in rep, the staging is compromised a little but Joshua Stamp-Simon’s confident direction rolls with this and the kitchen-sink setting soon disappears behind the drama. The fragility of comic genius is exposed by Guy Woolf’s touching portrayal of Kenny, while Benedict Hastings is a riot of anger and ambition as volatile comic Phil. If not the best vocalist, Simon Haines knows how to seriously deliver a number and as Ted, he does a fine job bringing the team together. The cast might be outnumbered by musical director Josh Sood’s accomplished orchestra, but in such an intimate space it’s a symbiotic relationship that warms up through the show.

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A slow-burning but still relevant revival, supported by energetic performances and an accomplished orchestra