The Bristol Reviews
David Harrison for the BRISTOL EVENING POST.
“With a comic talent like Vivian Stanshall behind words, music, conception, direction and even hair design, this has to be something special. It is.
“The plot may verge on the incomprehensible and the continuity scarcely exist, but Stinkfoot is a joy - a wondrous collection of bizarre characters, eccentric ideas, and at least one top ten contender among the songs.
“There is a singing, dancing cat, a giant squid and a partly cooked shrimp, and somewhere buried beneath it all, Viv Stanshall’s more serious philosophical side.
“The costumes are beautiful, and so is the cast, all drawn from Old Profanity regulars like the Soul Searchers, Chicane’s Law, Joi Polloi, and the Desperate Men.
“Face the black side of life with Pete Coggin’s lugubrious flatfish who has the most memorable song, a gorgeous big tune ballad duet with budgerigar Cindy Stratton. Marvel at Nikki B, a Whitchurch hairdresser with a voice somewhere between Mae West and Bessie Smith.
“And revel with Steve Howe’s gymnastic Stinkfoot, Sydney Longfellow’s seascaped hairstyle, John Beedell’s spine-chilling ventriloquist’s dummy, and Andy Black’s haunted Soliquisto.
“The show may need a less self-indulgent eye than Viv Stanshall’s to bring out the full shading, but the songs ranging from twenties parodies to genuine originals, are very good indeed - and there is unlikely to be another Christmas show as innovative and challenging as this.”
David Foote for THE GUARDIAN
“Vivian Stanshall, he who led the erstwhile Bonzo Dog Doodah Band and wrote some of Steve Winwood’s songs, is creatively back - and coming up with, of all things, a highly individual ‘comic opera’, premiered at the Old Profanity Showboat in Bristol.
“The ideas spill out of him: pastiche, the surreal, visual jokes, and new songs by the conveyor belt (several are infinitely better than most of what masquerades as Top Twenty material these days). Who are we to complain if the sheer output obscures the narrative and the shape?
“Co-written with his wife, he's the composer, lyricist, and director. Backed artistically by Pamela Ki Longfellow, he has set up the Crackpot Theatre Company and given us an offbeat Christmas show that is funny, bluesy, and loony. It isn’t always easy to share his wavelength, the production would probably have gained from a more detached view, and with it some re-structuring and editing. But the marvel is that here is an original, unusual musical, smelling of the salt sea, with Coward, Cagney, and Mae West around to keep us happily buoyant.
“By persuasive charm rather than any fat cheques, Mr. Stanshall has assembled a large, capable, well-balanced band, able to parody when necessary or simply rock. The cast is notable for Steve Howe’s Stinkfoot.”
Richard Gilbert in THE TIMES
“Nobody would expect a musical for Christmas by Vivian Stanshall to be anything but bizarre and original. Ringmaster of the Bonzo Dog Band and creator of Rawlinson End, that saga of aristocratic lunacy where the family motto is ‘omnes blotto’ and dinner is followed by billiards on horseback or catching the javelin, Stanshall has now co-written and directed an extraordinary comic opera for his wife’s floating theatre in the Bristol Docks.
“On board this former coaster, Stinkfoot is a suitably aquatic show. It is a watery tale set alternatively at the end of a seaside pier and under the ocean, peopled by an angst-ridden music hall artiste, his Faustian apprentice, a tomcat under the influence of James Cagney (Stinkfoot himself), a Mae Westian glamour-puss (Persian Moll) and an oracular ventriloquist’s dummy, Screwy.
“Under the waves there is more derring-do from a cynical flounder, a giant squid and a partly cooked shrimp. The cast of local singers, fringe actors and musicians seems to have absorbed the complexities of the highly moral plot where regeneration triumphs over evil and all optimists ultimately defeat the pessimists. The story-line is less important than the ambitious and resonant songs and music.
“Nikki B, who plays Persian Moll, has a striking blues voice and a stage presence that belies her real-life job as a hairdresser. The soul singer Pete Coggins is a convincingly lugubrious flounder and Steve Howe’s Stinkfoot is a sassy tomcat.
“The length of the Old Profanity boat is cunningly exploited by the marine set, but Stinkfoot (with some judicious cuts) deserves to be seen in London on dry land at a larger venue.”
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