A flurry of negative reviews for Viva Forever! seemed somewhat inevitable for those not inclined to enjoy a bit of cheesy pop and 90s styling, but this review would like to set the record straight and tell a story of two girls going to the theatre who regained their belief in girl power.
Not that all the negative feedback is wrong. It can be argued that the plot is a bit contrived, as is often inevitable with the jukebox musical format. It is not high culture - but it is highly entertaining, outrageous, engaging and funny.
Judy Cramer (the producer of theatre hit Mamma Mia) and comedienne Jennifer Saunders are the ones to thank for this tribute to girl power. The audience enjoys a total of 23 Spice Girls’ hits including ‘Wannabe’, ‘Spice Up Your Life’ and ‘2 Become 1’ and if you are the chair-dancing type you may need to take a few friends to restrain you.
The show should be heartily applauded for the great continuity from story into songs and back again. The cast remained composed during and after lively choreography, where mere humans such as us would undoubtedly fail to keep up. One thing that we were both struck by was the interesting combination of some very well-known and little-known songs (only to be recognised by die-hard fans - and there were a few! We turned round during the interval and were faced by two women wearing matching Spice Girls hoodies and woolly hats, in a warm theatre).
The plot unfolds as follows: Viva, a young girl with an audacious adoptive mother, auditions for ‘Starmaker’, an X-Factor style show. She enters with three friends as part of a quirky girl group called ‘Eternity’. As the show is based on ratings and is reputable for its shocking twists, when she gets to the next phase of the competition, Viva is asked to ditch her friends and become a solo act. She is given the choice: fame or friendship?
There is comedy, drama (plenty of it) and themes of family, friendship and love throughout. It is clearly an added bonus for the director, Paul Garrington, that everyone is familiar with the format of reality talent TV shows, which makes this work as a parody. The judges, it could be argued, are extreme parodies of Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and Sharon Osbourne.
“Why should we go?” we hear you ask. Well, we’re going to answer that first philosophically and secondly, honestly. Firstly, for better or worse, the show reflects our current generation, where everyone wants to be famous. Secondly, Viva Forever! will make you dance in your chair; it won’t make you think, but it will easily make you remember. You’ll remember where you were in life when you first fell in love with the Spice Girls and girl power. And that, really, is the point of this show. Victoria McDowell is a writer aspiring to work in production. She loves detective novels and popular culture. Anamaria Deduleasa is a journalism student and enjoys musicals and films.
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