It’s '12 points' for ‘Eurobeat: The Pride of Europe’
Hello Europe, this is London Theatre calling!
I’m unashamed to say Eurovision is one of my favourite nights. Over the years, Eurovision has given us the goods: ABBA, Celine Dion, and hours of Graham Norton’s acerbic commentary. So, when I watched Eurobeat at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, I was that obsessed fan that told all their friends and family about the show’s magic.
For five years, I’ve been patiently waiting for a new Eurobeat — and it’s finally here. Half a decade later. Eurobeat continues to be the pride of Europe; a Europop cross musical frenzy in a way that only the Brits could create.
There's no real storyline in Eurobeat, as it's more of a musical celebration. It's just like the Eurovision finals; a representative from ten European countries take to the mic for three minutes with an original song. This year's Eurobeat is set in Liechtenstein, hosted by the fictional famed Liechtensteiner Marlene Cabana.
Capturing a live atmosphere in an empty space — Eurobeat was filmed at the Clapham Grand — is no mean feat, but David O’Reilly as Orla Board playing Marlene confidently kicks Eurobeat off with the energy of a camp cracker snap. This high energy is kept up throughout the show, with eccentric costume changes for each scene.
In typical Eurovision style, the Eurobeat hosts take their moment in the spotlight and run with it. Sooz Kempner and Scott Paige as Liechtenstein’s cultural ambassadors eke out every laugh possible, perfectly complementing one another with their bizarre facts and repetitive "it's true, Google its". Separately, they compete in the Romanian and Norwegian acts respectively, delivering stellar performances.
If you’re a self-confessed Eurovision lover, you’ll be pleased to see obvious nods to contests past. There’s costume reveals and ripping off skirts to rival Bucks Fizz. The Prince of Egypt’s Christine Allado represents Sweden, giving a blistering rendition of Scandi-pop track “Semaphore of Love.”
Joanne Clifton and George Olney represent Lithuania with a deadpan dance number that would take over TikTok. Some of the lyrics will never leave my head either, notably "hit me like a timpani" in the Ukranian “Bang Me” entry, hilariously performed by RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Tia Kofi.
For all the good-natured Eurovision pastiche, there’s occasions where a country’s representation feels dated. Does the Irish song need to be called “Diddly Dee”? And there’s only so many Brexit jokes that the UK would tolerate being the butt of.
Once all ten acts have performed, audiences will be able to vote for their favourite act on a dedicated website. The Eurobeat winner will be revealed in a fortnight’s time, with all possible outcomes pre-recorded. I won’t share who I’d vote for but I’ll say this, I’d give “nul points” to the United Kingdom.
Photo credit: Scott Paige, Claudia Kariuki and Tia Kofi in Eurobeat (Photos by Darren Bell)