50 Shades! The Musical: The Original Parody
EL James' BDSM adventure gets a Day-Glo makeover at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Since the novel set the bar so low in terms of characterisation, plot and prose style, this parody of Fifty Shades easily captures its thin eroticism and pornography of consumerism. There's no doubt that the musical has been designed to appeal to fans of the trilogy – there are two topless men to one scantily clad female backing dancer – but the script expects no prior knowledge. Sending up EL James' writing with fondness, the parody revolves around a book group's overheated engagement with their latest set text.
The songs are gloriously crude – dumb like the Ramones, revelling in a blunt, coarse humour and mocking both the book and prudery. James' use of metaphor in the book – the various coy names that body parts get called, and the extended metaphor of the 'inner goddess' – give the company plenty of material.
The cast clearly enjoy camping up the script, and launch into the musical numbers with energy and vocal ability. The choreography is predictable – although the ironic ballet pas de deux marking the lovers' first tryst is witty and technically strong – but the music ranges about through funk, gospel and even Gilbert and Sullivan pastiches to keep the pace fast and the audience cheering.
Christian Grey, the romantic hero, is given a brilliant twist, and his extended workout of 'I Don't Make Love' is both a masterpiece of dirty humour and vocal dexterity. Fans of BDSM-lite won't be disappointed, but there is also a sly wink towards the novel's absurdity.
Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 13), 10.30pm, £13–£15.