I’m at a loss as to why Bad Girls the Musical, actually a flaccid excuse for a musical, came to be performed on the professional stage (it originated at the West Yorkshire Playhouse), let alone in the West End (and cluttering up a playhouse, the Garrick, too).
The woeful derivative music (sub pop, thin and electric sounding) is bad enough, but the pointless plot and central casting characters ensured that I had absolutely no interest in events onstage. The surprisingly large company of 24 do their best to enliven proceedings, but the painfully banal dialogue and risible lyrics kill any acting or singing talent dead (though not all the cast possess great singling talents).
You might reasonably expect a camp comic treat from Bad Girls (advertised with a glitter ball acting as a ball and chain), a cult trash TV hit on ITV a few years ago, but the humour is (mostly) sorely lacking. Set in a tough women’s prison, the plot is inconsequential, so I won’t bother you with it, suffice to say that dastardly ‘screws’, lesbian inmates, nasty drug dealers, a suicide and a prison riot are all seen before the interval (the people next to me fled before 30 minute were up, many more left in the interval, and on a Saturday night the theatre’s upper circle was closed).
The second act saw more of the same, combined with an unlikely union of prisoner and a sympathetic female Governor to get some bad screws (an evil sexual predator screw, imagine!). There is one parody number, ‘All Banged Up’, which was like a budget version of ‘Prisoners of Love’ in The Producers, the sequins and costumes just looked so cheap.
The set/design is reasonable enough, respectably spare, with back projections of grim prison landings and jail cell bars, and a few pieces of moving scenery making up the cells or the various prison environs. Due for a lengthy period of community service are director Maggie Norris, book writers Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus and composer and lyricist Kath Gotts. This flat musical is stretch out to over tow and a half hours. It felt like a life sentence (is that enough prison ‘jokes’?).