The geeks shall inherit the earth, or so the premise of Loserville goes. A cheery, primary-coloured musical with an array of catchy numbers and sci fi in-jokes, Elliot Davis and James Bourne’s (of Busted fame) production offered plenty of laughs and sent the audience home in good spirits.
The story, such as there is, is a simple “revenge of the nerd” type fantasy, set in 1971 at the dawn of the computer age. Michael Dork, the brainiac at the centre of the story, has to find a way to beat the evil corporation, see off the dumb jock, get the girl (a not-so-dumb blonde) and for good measure, maintain his friendship with wingman Lucas. The Star Wars and Star Trek jokes are laid on thick (even a non-fan like me managed to pick up the references) and there are plenty of knowing lines about the future and what technology will one day offer.
The poster campaign has centred around the fact that “if you like Glee” (or Grease, or the Big Bang Project), you’ll just adore Loserville. It’s true, to the extent that if you don’t like the sugary pop and overdone acting of McKinley High then you’ll probably run a mile from a stage version offering similar ingredients. But it’s not Glee, not even close.
Glee, for all its faults, is subversive – it undermines the high school tropes that Loserville is dealing in, so the cheerleader becomes the outcast, the jock doesn’t always get the girl but has a deeper side to him, and the nerdishness of the nerds becomes a winning characteristic. Loserville has a happy ending, but the geeks remain awkward hunchbacks with glasses, while the jock really doesn’t have a brain. If a comparison with a reason musical outing is necessary, Loserville owes much more to the Disney-fizz of High School Musical.
That said, the songs are catchy and fun, while the set is truly imaginative and gives an extra dimension to the relatively small stage at the Garrick. All in all, a fun and very laid back night out in the West End.
Loserville is at the Garrick until March 2013. Book tickets here.