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Theatre review: Spinach at the King’s Head Theatre

15:51 20 June 2012

Cassandra Compton and Ben Gerrard in Spinach at the King

Cassandra Compton and Ben Gerrard in Spinach at the King's Head Theatre. Photo by Claire Bilyard

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Sung play is a real treat, writes Jenisa Altink-Thumbadoo

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Two strangers, Tom and Kate, find themselves bound together with no clue where they are, how they got there or how to escape.

It’s a bold and intriguing opening that immediately reels you into this sung-through play, written and composed by Janine and Simon Waters.

I don’t think I was alone at the packed King’s Head in wondering whether Spinach could sate our curiosity while steering clear of cheesy musical clichés, but as it turns out, the only cheese in this tightly written script comes in the form of a halloumi kebab.

Via a series of hazy, random flashbacks, our protagonists battle through their drug-induced amnesia to piece together the events leading to their bizarre predicament.

All this is set against a melodic piano score, interspersed with ukulele, saxophone and even a briefcase used as an instrument, which draws on a variety of musical styles and includes some fairly catchy numbers. The result is a thoroughly entertaining 80 minutes that delivers on the thrills and laughs its enticing opening promised.

The cast of four do a brilliant job of bringing the characters to life, without being impeded by the fact that every word is sung. Cassandra Compton’s honeyed vocals and impeccable comic timing add dimension to the kind-hearted Kate, and Ben Gerrard puts in a charming performance as geeky pill packer Tom.

In support, Claire Greenway is delightful as fastidiously clean Maureen and Craig Whittaker superb as Tom’s complex sidekick Darren, but it is the chemistry between Gerrard and Compton that steals the show. The pair provide a heart-warming romance as a counterpoint to the chaos and hilarity.

Well written and brilliantly presented, the play is a feel good hit that had me smiling all the way home. I highly recommend catching it before the run ends – it’s not often you’ll hear it said, but Spinach is a real treat.

* Spinach is at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street, N1, until July 7. Call 020 7226 1916.

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