Fine and Dandy showing at the King’s Head Theatre, as part of their Queer Season, is an upbeat romp following the life of Ernest Faigele Fine; a gender fluid Jew on a fantastical voyage across the world. Along the way he (or she) encounters a host of marauding, swindling and downright nutty characters, from an aggressively jealous snake charmer, to a duplicitous couple selling elixir of youth. This is lighthearted entertainment with a warm soul and energetic pace, but this can’t detract from what is an unpolished, rough around the edges show.
At times it is completely chaotic – not the controlled, artful chaos that delights, but a slight messy freneticism that sometimes seems amateur. None of the acting is really bad but nor is it particularly noteworthy and therein lies the problem; to pull off a show like this, encompassing cabaret and music hall styles, requires extremely accomplished performers. The old fashioned type who have played the music halls for years and built up the patter, swagger and deftness to win over the audience, and negotiate the range of singing, dancing and comedy required. To their credit the actors are giving it a go but it never quite hits the mark.
The addition of some haphazard writing which dives into each plot twist with as much subtlety as a blunt hammer does not help. This may well be deliberate but if the intention is to be humorous, it often feels more cringeworthy.
Perhaps a few drinks in this pub theatre before watching could ease this along – there is musical talent on display and anyone in the mood for some silly, fast-paced fun might enjoy it. Just don’t take it too seriously.