Tomfoolery The Words and Music of Tom Lehrer is a revue-style show of satirical songs, celebrating the work of Tom Lehrer. The show was originally created by Cameron Mackintosh, opening in London in 1980, and has since been performed around the world.
Tom Lehrer’s songs are delightfully witty, although some were originally considered to be too offensive when first performed back in the 1960s. A Harvard graduate, Lehrer’s sharp intellect is evident in the biting satire. In an era when musicals like The Book Of Mormon are breaking box office records and playing to sold out houses night after night, the irreverent style of Tomfoolery now feels almost mainstream.
This latest production of Tomfoolery features Susan-Ann Walker, Peter Hurley, Michael Dalton and Sean Weatherly, with clever direction by Theresa Borg. The cast all have their solo moments to shine, and the addition of various props and musical instruments add to the visual dynamics.
The whole cast understand this style of comedy and bring out every possible laugh. The songs flow seamlessly from one to another, as cast move on and off the stage – as does the additional “cast member”.
A well balanced sound design (Bob Weatherly) and beautifully enunciated lyrics by the cast ensure every delicious word of Tom Lehrer’s stinging satire is heard and appreciated by the audience.
There are certainly some songs that have the potential to offend – such as ‘Poisoning Pigeons in the Park’ (the name sums it up). However, the comedy is all in the delivery, and the audience were in stitches.
Some of the songs are simply clever, such as ‘The Elements’ – in which the elements of the periodic table are recited to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Major General’. But some, despite being written decades ago, still have a rather alarming relevance for today’s society, covering topics such as pollution, racial tension, the nuclear arms race and the threat of a third world war, such as the show’s closing number ‘We Will All Go Together When We Go’.
Tomfoolery The Words and Music of Tom Lehrer is an hour of laughs, that will thoroughly entertain, but also give you something to ponder as you leave.