Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

David Hasselhoff
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Musical
Genre: Comedy
Date: January 19 2016
Location: Liverpool Empire Theatre

Sun, sea, sand and sex ... and The Hoff - what more could you want off a holiday-themed show?

Yes, The Hoff himself, David Hasselhoff, was a leading cast member in the show Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, a comedy musical which detailed the trials and tribulations off a teenage girl named Penny (Stephanie Webber), who is looking to connect more with her father Ross (played by Hoff) whilst also taking the first big steps in learning about love, all amidst an eventful couple of days in Ibiza, and with dad's workplace Club Nirvana acting as a setting for many of the show's key events.

The premise is that Penny is visiting her father in Ibiza, only to learn that he has a new love interest (Amber, played by Natalie Amanda Grey), one who is only a few years older than Penny. But things are not going well between Ross and Amber either, especially since certain holiday-makers often imply that they had a "great night" in his company. During this family turmoil, though, Penny falls for Rik (Shane Richie Junior), a young DJ who is also based in Ibiza.

During the holiday-based hijinks, though, we are given an insight into the dark underbelly of Ibiza: the drugs scene, which is emphasised (at least in this show) as a key hook to get the 18-30 crowd into the club. It seems that Ross knows what's going on, but business is business and therefore the proverbial blind eye is turned. But that changes when Penny falls prey to ecstasy, and from there we get several questions to ponder as the plot thickens: can Ross save his relationships with both Amber and Penny; will Penny and Rik officially become an item, in spite of reservations by Ross (particularly after the ecstasy incident); and will Ebenezer (Barry Bloxham) be taken down for his after-hours drugs business, considering that he is a master at blackmailing potential whistle-blowers?

A key element of this show is the use of music, which ranges from 80s classics (like Never Gonna Give You Up) to 90s/2000s pop hits (We're Going To Ibiza is a natural choice) as well as house and R&B tunes for the club scenes. These are performed by the cast within some nifty dance routines, and for the more nostalgic numbers, you will find yourself singing along, probably without realising it. Oh, and for the ladies, there's a homage to Baywatch (well, the Hoff's there so how could you not?) which should give you some fond flashbacks.

While the music is important, though, this is first and foremost a comedy, based more on humorous visuals and unforeseen situations than jokes (although there are a few one-liners in there, some of which are eyebrow-raising). When it comes to tickling one's funny bone, the star is Tam Ryan as José, a gentle barman who butchers the English language, leading to several funny exchanges whereby messages are misheard (one of which hovers within the zone marked "risqué"). Another side-plot sees José become one of those who have to keep tight-lipped about the drug scene, since the prospect of losing his job and being unable to provide for his mother is an unimaginable one. Stephanie and Shane are also effective portraying the budding couple, and Hoff - well, he's Hoff, so he can adapt to any situation.

Speaking of the drugs, it's surprising that the show touches upon it at all, never mind basing a big part of the plot on it and, whilst in a light-hearted way, almost glamourizing it at times. Fortunately, this is done to emphasise the dangers rather than the supposed thrills of drug use, and those watching the show should be satisfied by how this story arc is handled come the conclusion. Elsewhere, the settings were simple yet effective, although the club scenery looked very realistic; the lighting was very bright and colourful, adding to the party mood; and the graphics shown on big screens during dance numbers were very advanced and funky. This is definitely aimed at teenagers as evidenced by the music and graphics, and by the occasional references to sex (which, to be fair considering my intro line, is only suggested and never seen on-stage, which depending on your opinion is either a positive or a negative; based on the target audience, you'll get stances on both sides for that one).

The show featured a scene early on involving audience participation, which went hilariously wrong, with the José character fortunately making light of it. Unfortunately, I felt that certain members of the audience spoiled some parts of the show via catcalls, some of which were tolerable, but became a real distraction as important moments of the plot - including some with a less humorous tone - were inaudible due to some people who wanted their own voices to be heard.

Overall, though, this couldn't greatly damage what I felt was a very entertaining show, one which will open eyes as to the Ibiza lifestyle if they are unaware, one which will provide a barrel of laughs throughout, and one which will take the older members of the audience back to the 80s and 90s via some unforgettably cheesy pop tunes. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life; tomorrow night, or on another night, you should see this show, especially if you're aged 18-30.

And harking back to the beginning of this review, you'll get to see the Hoff - what more could you want?

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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