Sunday, 20 January 2019
REVIEW: Club Mex - Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
If you’re looking for a way to chase away the January blues then look no further than the ever impressive Hope Mill Theatre situated in Ancoats. The latest debut production to grace their stage is Club Mex; produced by Global Musicals in co-production with Aitch productions and developed by Perfect Pitch, this is an immersive and wild theatre nightclub experience which transports the audience from a chilly Manchester evening to a carefree clubbing holiday in Mexico, where you’ll step straight onto the dance floor and be right in the heart of the action.
Club Mex is a hilarious and heartwarming production which follows the antics of three friends, sex-mad Tiff (Alison Arnopp), adorable and naive Lou (Emma Louise Hoey), and bride-to-be Mel (Jade Johnson) as they head to the hottest resort in Cancun for Mel’s Hen Party, but it turns out it’s not just the dance floor that is being torn apart.
Club Mex is brought to the stage by the production company behind hit musical SIX so it should come as no surprise that it is bursting apart with energy. Directed by Julie Atherton and choreographed by Genesis Lynea, Club Mex is wonderful, full of catchy and comical musical numbers, with an original score by John-Victor. Throughout the production the rhythm of the music and the incredible vocals from all of the cast is infectious, you’ll be tapping, swaying, dancing and singing along before you know it.
The show features a wide range of lovable and hilarious characters, yet although Club Mex is on the surface a comedy musical it brings real depth and subtlety to the various roles. Arnopp’s blunt and crass Tiff is juxtaposed incredibly with Hoey’s innocent Lou, but throughout the performance you see different sides to each of them. But it’s not just the girls who are stealing the show. Antonio (Alvaro Flores) injects some excellently timed comedy to the production, but also starts to share a more sensitive side, which will have you questioning whether holiday reps are just in it for the “tips.”
This production has given some careful thought to tie together the music and action to fully embrace the space at Hope Mill. In fact, unlike some other immersive shows, Club Mex excels in both involving the audience and avoiding any dead spots. Two raised stages zig-zag across the room, whilst at either end larger spaces allow for lengthier scenes which aid character development and allow for some more poignant moments.
It is worth noting that due to the nature of the production there is very limited seating and you’ll be standing, or rather dancing, throughout. Being an immersive show, you should expect a few moments of mild audience participation, other than all the dancing that is. But if you stay near the edges of the room you’re unlikely to be wrangled into joining in with the swim aerobics lesson!
There might be a whole host of reasons for you to need some extra sunshine this January, but if entering the world of immersive nightclub theatre doesn’t sound too daunting (it shouldn’t!) I’d urge you to grab a margarita and get yourself down to Club Mex, after all, it’s a heck of a lot easier than getting a flight to Mexico!
Reviewer - Harriet Mallion
on - 19/1/19