It’s America 1971 and computer geek Michael Dork dreams of changing the world by making two computers ‘talk’ to one another before the mega corps of silicon valley do.
Yes, Loserville is a musical comedy about the (fictional) birth of email.
Bursting with colour and energy, packed with jokes and boasting the most memorable soundtrack since Avenue Q, this is one of the most fun shows currently playing in the West End.
When Dork’s research is derailed by scheming jock Eddie, he and fellow geeks Lucas, Marvin and Francis enlist the help of beautiful she-geek Holly who harbours her own dream of becoming the first woman in space.
As the story unfolds the gang must overcome a series of setbacks and hearts get broken before, as the format requires, the bully ultimately gets his comeuppance and the geeks win the day.
Elliot Davis and James Bourne’s script is witty and self-knowing and packed with more than enough sly Star Wars and Star Trek references to tickle any fans in the audience.
The duo use the benefit of hindsight to inform the characters predictions of the future – one vain type suggests shows will exist merely to make talentless people famous – and wisely avoid the mistake of having the play take itself seriously.
A sub-plot which has Lucas writing a book about a galactic ‘good v evil’ battle lasts a couple of Star Wars puns too long, but otherwise it’s hard to find fault.
Bourne’s bouncy soundtrack is instantly memorable and makes the most of the cast’s energy and enthusiasm for the material. You’ll be humming along in no time and wanting a copy for your iPod. Or is that just me?
Though the entire cast do great work, lead Aaron Sidwell deserves special mention for infusing Dork with so much likability and warmth that he rises above the obvious Sheldon Cooper/Will McKenzie hybrid I was expecting.
It’s always nice to be proven wrong.
The inventive set design keeps the fun going – big colourful notepads (the paper sort, this is the birth of modern computing after all!) dominate the set with cast members flipping over pages to enact scene changes.
Loserville previously played at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the cast and writers have clearly used those performances and the London previews to hone the material to near-perfection.
Sometimes you have an experience that’s so much fun you want to re-live it all over again. Loserville is one such experience. Were it a DVD I’d have hit ‘play’ for an instant repeat performance. Instead it joins that very select group of films and plays I’ve enjoyed enough to spend my own money going back to.
Our verdict: 5/5
Loserville opens at the Garrick Theatre on Wednesday 17th October. Visit loservillemusical.tv for prices and booking details.