On the surface an improvised Bon Jovi jukebox musical sounds like my idea of an absolute nightmare. How wrong could I be?! When you start to realise that the Edinburgh budget means YOU are the one improvising, this piece turns into a hilarious original show destined for an (anticipated) 12 Olivier Awards in the West End (of East Edinburgh).
Hold on to your mullet because the Bon Jovi jukebox musical is here. Except, it’s up to the audience to imagine it all, with the help of just one man: theatre maker Paul O’Donnell. Modern jukebox musicals usually involve a multi-talented cast, an orchestra, opulent sets, decadent costumes, extravagant routines, dramatic key changes and the odd hydraulic lift or two. We’ve Got Each Other has none of these things (they cost lots of money), but Paul will still try to create an all-singing, all-dancing spectacle simply using the power of imagination.
Tommy (who used to work on the docks) and Gina (who works the diner all day) come to life (in your mind) in this intelligent imagining of what a Bon Jovi musical could entail. It’s amazing how much one man, an IKEA lamp and a few lighting cues can achieve in an hour. Paul O’Donnell sits reading the script and stage directions to a backdrop of lighting and numerous variations of Livin’ On a Prayer. That’s all it is… but that’s the beauty of it.
Paul champions the comedic stereotype, throwing in any Spanish words he can gather for Gina’s family, and just when you think the format may start to become tedious, there he goes demonstrating the act two dance fight scene between the two male leads. And he’s quite the mover too!
Paul’s understanding of today’s musical theatre is incredible; poking fun at everything from dance breaks to celebrity casting and interval thoughts… (how does he know I only buy the programme to look up the dance captain’s training?!) This show echoes everything we love about the Fringe – high-end art on a low-end budget. It’s a statement. It’s everything the West End is not and could never dream of being, and that’s what makes this show sublime.
We’ve Got Each Other brings essentially nothing, but in reality everything. Paul O’Donnell is glorious in this brilliant, inventive one-man show, almost making it one for anyone who hates jukeboxes! As he rightfully says in the show, ‘it’s not strange, it’s postmodern’ and it’s perfect for the Fringe.
We’ve Got Each Other is at the Pleasance Dome (JackDome) as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27 August. Tickets available online.
My Edinburgh trip was supported by the Network of Independent Critics! Find out more about their work here.
Photo credit: Simon K. Allen