One long magic MOE-MEnt

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - THEATRE - georgina brown

Five Guys Named Moe

Mar­ble Arch The­atre, Lon­don Un­til Fe­bru­ary 17, 2018, 2hrs

Such is the suc­cess of Clarke Peters’s warm-hearted, pitch-per­fect, high-en­ergy, juke­box trib­ute show to the rhythm ’n’ blues sax jazz le­gend Louis Jor­dan, that he is re­viv­ing it for the umpteenth time – no longer as the star but the di­rec­tor – in a pop-up the­atre de­signed to bring a flavour of New Or­leans in the Fifties to Lon­don.

It’s a spiegel­tent in­side the Mar­ble Arch round­about with a cock­tail bar in the foyer shak­ing up bour­bon sours and Hur­ri­cane cock­tails that you can take in to the per­form­ing space, the Funky Butt Club, where a stun­ning six-piece band is al­ready mak­ing this new joint jump.

The plot is barely there: a drunk, rum­pled, weepy No­max (Ed­ward Baruwa, short on soul) is at home in his apart­ment, his girl­friend Lor­raine hav­ing upped and left him. Cue the moody ‘It’s early in the morn­ing and I ain’t got noth­ing but the blues’.

Then, out of his ra­dio spring five bright-eyed and bouncy, zoot-suited guys named Moe, beam­ing wildly, singing in glo­ri­ous har­mony and danc­ing up a storm, while dish­ing up ad­vice to No­max on his woman prob­lems. They kick off with a warn­ing – Brother Be­ware – be­fore sug­gest­ing that Safe, Sane And Sin­gle might be the way for­ward.

But by the end, No­max has learned to say sorry and ask Lor­raine Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby? and it’s smiles all round.

As far as love sto­ries go, Antony and Cleopa­tra this ain’t. The nar­ra­tive slips out of sight en­tirely when No­max set­tles down to watch a cabaret, an ex­cuse for the fab­u­lously en­gag­ing five guys to shimmy, swivel, shake and shuf­fle ex­pertly on an O-shaped con­veyor belt, YO! Sushi-style, sim­ply let­ting the good times roll with Ain’t No­body Here But Us Chick­ens and Choo Choo Ch’Boo­gie and more. But it’s all done with such ef­fort­less charm and in­fec­tious ex­u­ber­ance that when the words to Push Ka Pi Shi Pie flut­tered down from above, the au­di­ence cheer­fully raised the roof and then leapt up to join a conga line. The per­fect date night.

Left: Dex Lee as Know Moe. Be­low: the Five Guys and Ed­ward Baruwa, far right, as No­max. Bot­tom: Idriss Kargbo as Lit­tle Moe

Ian Car­lyle as Four-Eyed Moe

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