Say My Name! The Unauthorised Breaking Bad Parody Musical
Say My Name! The Unauthorised ‘Breaking Bad’ Parody Musical.
Say My Name- the Unauthorised Breaking Bad musical sets out to condense 5 seasons of the smash hit TV show Breaking Bad into a 90 musical comedy.
If someone said to me – we need 6 people who can all play multiple instruments to a high standard, sing beautifully with a demanding range, have great comedic timing, fantastic characterisation, without compromising on the acting – I’d have told you it couldn’t be done. The talent from all cast members was to an extreme, and whilst the show might lack a certain finesse – it knows its brand and delivers. It doesn’t market itself as anything it isn’t. And in a fringe theatre comedy, with such an extreme amount of content, changes, and songs – finesse isn’t exactly important.
This musical has found its niche. Its most pleasing feature – which I think will be key to its ultimate success – is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Constantly self referential in terms of being a cheesy musical, it puts the audience at ease, because we know that they know it’s a ridiculous concept!
Energetic from the start, this laugh-a-minute musical is not one to be missed if you’ve ever seen Breaking Bad. Suitable for die-hard fans, and ‘can’t really remember it’ viewers alike – but you do have to have seen at least a few episodes of the show.
The tongue-in-cheek comedy style is perfect for an off the wall subject such as this. Not a pity laugh in sight, the brilliant performances from all cast members produce snorts and chokes of laughter from the audience with unexpected one-liners and fantastic comedic timing. It really is unbelievably clever – the lyrics, the staging, the serious coordination that comes with having 6 actor musos on a constant rotation of instruments, and parts. Multi-roling to the extreme, each cast member plays multiple characters, and multiple instruments, worked seamlessly into the set.
The various storytelling mechanisms are brilliant – an old silent movie style clip, a slow season 3 wrapped up into one hilarious song with farcically drawn wooden spoon puppets – ensure the story keeps moving, the audience never get bored, and the material stays fresh and funny. For example, Jesse, played by Rebecca Levy, only describes a particularly wild scene to Walt, and casually mentions that it would’ve been extremely difficult to stage – through clever devices like this, the cast get a laugh from the audience, whilst smoothly diverting the need to stage something too complicated – it’s brilliant.
To specify highlights from the cast seems almost unfair, as the general level of talent was phenomenal. But the characterisation of Rob Gathercole, who plays Saul/Teeny Walt Jr and many others, was expert – and his comedic timing impeccable. Similarly, the vocals of the two ladies, Rebecca Levy and Olivia Warren, were particularly impressive. I could however go on and mention each and every cast member for excelling, so I shall stop there.
The were very few faults I had with this production, but its biggest was the theatre. A perfectly atmospheric place for a musical about cooking Meth, however the seating was an issue. Not nearly tiered enough, this meant that any time a cast member was sat down, especially on the floor, they vanished from view. This upset me most as I think I may have missed a physical based joke or two because I just couldn’t see. The issue reappeared numerous times, including during the silent film clip, and was frustrating. The occasional dancing was slightly awkward at times when performed solitarily, and the cast didn’t leave gaps for audience applause and laughter from time to time – although on opening night, I know laughter and applause can come at moments the cast had not anticipated.
I can see Say My Name working really very well in a larger theatre, and have every faith that it would do well on a larger stage too. Even to go as far as having an ensemble further down the line would be brilliant for choreography, although this strong cast of 6 hold their own just fine.
It’s a show that would be a smash hit at Edinburgh Fringe, I’m sure – and hopefully on to bigger theatres after that. I hope this show gets the hype it deserves, the clever writing and talented performances are wasted on a 3 week run. I’d go back to see it again, and hope that with a bigger theatre and budget – things like sound levels, microphones for clarity, and a clever set built well, would give this show the finishing touches it deserves. Besides, any musical which facetiously references Sondheim’s clear superiority to Andrew Lloyd Webber is a winner in my book.
Get in and see Say My Name now whilst you still have time – before ‘the crippling cost of an expensive lawsuit’ hits, as Gathercole says. Although I’m sure the creators of Breaking Bad would love this production too. If you have any friends who are Breaking Bad enthusiasts, do send them to Theatre N16, or they really will be missing out.
A four star show, with an easy potential for five, if simple theatre issues are resolved.
Review by Mims Melville.
Say My Name is on until 2nd November 2018 at Theatre N16.