Friday, February 16, 2018

Musical: What Doesn’t Kill You (Blah Blah) Stronger (★★★★½)

Book and lyrics by Tyler Jacob Jones
Music by Robert Woods
Devised and performed by Erin Hutchinson and Tyler Jacob Jones
Accompanied by Joshua Haines

The Maj Downstairs
Until February 17

I go to Tyler Jacob Jones’s productions with high hopes that are invariably met. In the case of What Doesn’t Kill You (Blah Blah) Stronger, though, they’ve been exceeded big time.
As a writer of script and lyrics, and as a comic actor and singer, Jones is the most prodigious talent in this town. His long-standing partnership with the composer Robert Woods and the performer and director Erin Hutchinson has honed their individual and collaborative skills to a fine point, and their confidence as performers to starry heights.
This show, like the Martin Sims Award-winning Point and Shoot and the 2016/7 Fringe hit Dr Felicity Rickshaw’s Celebrity Sex Party, starts with an audacious premise that is instantly hilarious: “Let’s make a musical about people who should have been killed, but weren’t.”
The result is eight killer songs and some snappy snapshots about people like Alexander Selkirk who was marooned for four years and raised an army of cats to protect him from the desert island's rats; Paul Templar who was swallowed by a hippo but managed to escape; and Ann Hodge who was hit by a meteor (“I think God meant this meteor for me”) and lived. There’s about a dozen more victims of what should have been fatal fate – and all their stories are true!!
Jones and Woods know every musical style from opera to calypso, and they steal from them all with huge relish. With Joshua Haines doing some mightily impressive piano thumping behind them, Jones, and especially the gloriously excessive Hutchinson, hit some great material out of the park.
I insist that you go to this show, the best local entrant in the Fringe marathon I’ve seen or heard of so far.
It might make you weaker from laughing, but it won’t kill you. And it might just make you happier to be alive.

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