An energetic mash up of theatre and live gig, Nina Berry’s Fans is an insightful and often very funny exploration of the love of music: the bands and singers who move us, and why.
A fledgling band’s rehearsal is derailed by a debate as to their name. Madonna-mad Charlie (Charlie Raine) wants to pay tribute to her icon, which doesn’t go down well with Green Day-obsessed Chris (Chris Foley, who is also the show’s musical director). Meghan – played by new cast member, Alex Tahnee, taking over from the original production’s Meghan Doyle – has such expansive, eclectic tastes she finds it impossible to narrow down, while peacemaker Andrew (Andrew Bleakley) is caught in the middle.
Each of them gives us their musical biography, punctuated by snatches of songs, a mix of classics and original pieces, cleverly used (all played and sung by the cast). Inspired by real-life ‘confessions’ – recordings of which book-end the action, to great effect – there is no earth-shattering drama here: more common experiences, pleasingly played out, from embarrassing emo phases to the bittersweet anxiety and anticipation of making someone a mix tape.
Designers Luke W Robson and Craig Spence echo the musical mash-up with a vibe that is part your-parents’-garage-rehearsal-space, part performance venue, with song titles and audience instructions projected onto the walls.
Reworked from its 2016 run for a new tour and fluidly directed by co-creator Melanie Rashbrooke, it’s an at times slight piece, but one of enormous charm, performed with verve by an immensely likeable cast.