First and foremost, I am massively biased towards anything Showstopper related. I love them all to pieces, and that fact that this show included Ruth, Pippa and Lucy already ranks it quite highly because each of them is a veritable joy.
This show was bizarre from the get go. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the ‘Stoppers, let me enlighten you. They produce, from thin air, a musical – a different show each and every time. There is no script, no pre-written musical score, just a group of ridiculously talented people doing amazing work. All the ideas come from audience members, are voted on by audience members and enjoyed by audience members. A setting, some musicals to inspire songs and away they go.
So this one was set inside the head of an audience member’s mother. There were other options, but they were boring by comparison. It was always going to be the head thing, because why the hell wouldn’t you pick that if you could.
I thought it would be a musical version of The Numbskulls from The Beano (and previously The Dandy and The Beezer) in which a variety of different people operated a person from the inside. Like the Pixar film Inside Out, for the digital generation.
It was not.
Instead it turned out to be a genuinely moving show about the memories of an old woman – the audience member’s mother, remember – who was in the last days of her life. She was remembering her life, and how no-one wanted her to stick around – not the sexy nunnery (in the style of Chicago) or the father of her children, or some revolutionaries who just wanted her for the posters.
The story evolved into a tale of a lost daughter, given up for adoption at an early – or not so early – age. But the memories were clouded and muddled. The daughter she was remembering wasn’t the daughter she’d given up. The daughter she’d given up was the nurse in the hospital who was spending her time transcribing the lady’s memories.
It was fricking magical.
Absolutely bloody magical.
Standing ovation levels of magical.
It was, honestly, one of the best ‘Stoppers I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a fair few now. Each one is brilliant but this one reached new levels of amazingness. And when you’re improving a scene so brilliantly that it leaves you crying at the end, as happened with one of the cast, then you’ve pretty much reached the top.
I wish I could see The Showstoppers! every day. It would cost a small fortune but they never fail to impress me, delight me and leave me singing songs afterwards.
And this one was no exception.
Mother Jose, you were an inspiration.