The only show likely to make you reach for the fake tan or feel fanny flutters at the Fringe this year is tucked away, rather appropriately, at the Patter Hoose. And boy does the patter flow in this brilliant Love Island parody, which serves as both satire and tribute to the omnipresent ITV programme which has gripped (and irked) the nation in recent years, delivering an unexpected renaissance for reality television in the process.
Got a Text: A Musical Parody opens with the thrilling and instantly recognisable drumbeats of ‘The Greatest Show’, the opening number in P.T. Barnum musical-fantasy-biopic The Greatest Showman (2017), with the cast striding onstage to proclaim proudly that ‘Love Island’s the great show!’ As someone who has dipped in and out of the series and has only a passing knowledge of its key features, the ensemble does a magnificent job of bringing both Love Island initiates and newbies up to speed about the process of watching six superficial contestants ‘couple up’ and squabble for the viewing public’s pleasure.
“Truly a critique of Love Island as well as a celebration of its myriad of guilty pleasures”
The musical numbers are wisely scattered across the show rather than being the centrepiece of the production. These include parody versions of Ariana Grande’s ‘3 Rings’ and an inspired revision of ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ by Stealers Wheel – made famous by that scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs – which brilliantly becomes ‘Stuck in this Villa with You’.
This hints at the darker undercurrents of Love Island and the idea that the viewers are complicit in a ‘Christians to the Lions’ form of psychological torment suffered by the islanders. Rather than undermining what is, to all intents and purposes, an extremely fun and upbeat show, this occasional mood shift – which is cemented during the production’s final scene – ensures that Got a Text is truly a critique of Love Island as well as a celebration of its myriad of guilty pleasures.
The limited number of musical numbers also allows the six cast members to showcase their full range of comedic talents – even indulging in a section in which an audience member is brought onstage as the new islander, which demonstrates their additional skills as improvisers. In each number, I was astounded by the outstanding vocal quality which confirmed that this is an ensemble of true triple threats.
Got a Text is a production with sharp wit and a perfect marriage of music and comedy. The individual spoofs of Love Island archetypes – the self-centred Essex Girl, the blond queen bee, the Gap Yah lad and the cocksure sex pest to name just four – absolutely nails the show itself and, in the tradition of all great parody, the cast simultaneously celebrate and examine their source material. And just you wait for that Brexit twist.
Got a Text: A Musical Parody is running at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose – Other Yin at 13:45 until 25th August.
Image: Round Three Productions