Entertainment

Kinky Boots – review

Andy Wynn reviews Kinky Boots, showing at the Bristol Hippodrome, and tells us what he loves about this ‘cheeky, sexy romp’…

One of the great things about modern life is Google, have you ever wondered how we coped before Google? If something sparks our interest, we have a wondering or just want to know more about something we’ve learned then, without a moment’s hesitation, we ‘Google it’.

kayi actor
Kayi Ushe

I found myself doing just that last night, around 11.30pm, winding down after an evening out. I found myself Googling Kayi Ushe. I learned, amongst other things, that he does Yoga. See? interesting stuff, I wouldn’t have known that in the old days, pre Google. 

I also learned that this particular actor has been in his current role since December last year.

His current role is in Kinky Boots, he plays the flamboyantly sexy Transvestite Lola. I Googled him for two reasons, first I had never heard of him before and second, well because something else I learned last night, all on my own without the aid of modern technology, is that Kayi Ushe is a great actor, singer and dancer, and seems better than most at doing all three at once, as he stole the show in the Kinky Boots debut at Bristol Hippodrome.

Kinky Boots is a ‘bog standard’ story of the ages, person/group/business falls on hard times, thinks it’s all over, finds an innovative way out, has a wobble and everyone ends happy, with a smattering of ‘eyes opened to a new love he/she wouldn’t have looked at before’ thrown in. The focus on his occasion being a shoe factory handed from father to son and the worst possible time.

But, well, whilst that format could apply to so many shows, it’s how it’s flushed out that makes Kinky Boots a hit, and this version superb.

factory kinky boots

A great cast, for the most part belting out the score written by Cyndi Lauper, songs to raise you up, bring a tear to the eye and change who your favourite character is litter the show. I say for the most part as one of two issues I did have last night was that in some numbers, particularly with solo male performers (other than Ushe) it was hard to hear the words, mic to low? Music to loud? I don’t know.

The second issue, for me, was one of the promotional posters. This poster declares the show as “family entertainment’, it’s not. I’d say aged 15 and over, others may say lower, my youngest daughter is eight, I would not take her.

It’s a cheeky, sexy romp with jokes about what women want in a man, from one point of view and the other, with the more oafish proponent declaring that all they really want is “a rock hard… compassion” – interrupts our star and a humorous prologue where one character chats on his phone about the menace of people having their phones on during performances (a great touch!) and questions “which wanker decided that vibrate was silent, it makes a bloody noise”.

The story though, flowed well, The Angels, a group of transvestite backing dancers were awesome and the performances from Joel Harper-Jackson (Charlie) and ‘Kylie’ from Coronation Street, Paula Lane (Lauren) were heart-warming and brilliant, the Lauren character hilarious in her use of an air spray.

Standing ovations are all but guaranteed at Bristol Hippodrome these days, the test is more how long it takes to start. Last night, as the show came to an end, and the bowing began most of the audience suddenly found that the spring in their chair had malfunctioned, such was the immediacy of the jump to applaud. 

Kinky Boots is a great evening of laughter, melancholy, conveyor belts and an understanding that red = sex, sex = everything and anyone can have their bigoted eyes opened if pushed in the right way.

I loved it!

Kinky Boots is showing at the Bristol Hippodrome until February 9. Tickets are on sale here.

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