From pigeons to pensioners to portaloos: No Cash Left on the Premises Overnight premiered on Friday 28th May to an excellent reception from the ADC audience. The show follows ‘three bumbling crooks’ as they attempt to steal the crown jewels, and writers Ben James and Joe Venable packed twelve original songs into just over an hour, making for a fast-paced show brimming with energy and humour. Kitty Beck and Louise Dai’s slick directorial vision and stripped-back design aesthetic aided a cast in which there were no weak links, and overall No Cash hit a high note for student musical theatre upon the return of live performances.
Having had the show’s opener ‘No Cash’ on an incessant – and more than welcome – mental loop since previewing the show, it was great to see the song backed up by strong performances: the hilarious Charlotte Dargan as Bobbi emerged as a standout performer in this animated, electronic dance number. As the show progresses, it demonstrates a sharp self-awareness of its genre, allowing it to lean into and subvert theatrical clichés. Moments of metatheatre add to the comedy without becoming monotonous, and the actors’ chemistry and the brilliant dialogue stand out between musical numbers. The cast continue to perform a number of playfully witty songs, including a song about stealing a key, called ‘Key Change’, that features an impressive ten key changes. Emilia Grace as Kevin shines comedically and vocally in the song ‘Nee, Nee, Nee’, which comes complete with a recorder solo from Bobbi. What more could you want?
Ben James’ score is infectious and refreshingly blends musical genres, and Joe Venable’s style of lyricism is remarkably unique: his talent for using rhyme in the most ambitious and surprising ways is one of the musical’s most striking elements. This is evident in ‘Fast Track’, in which the consistently excellent Lara Cosmetatos, as Charli, confidently raps two verses of densely rhymed, high-speed lyrics, giving Lin-Manuel Miranda a run for his money. As Melanie, Sophie Craddock demonstrates strong vocals in ‘Insecurity’, a ballad which still manages to tick the comedy box through Bobbi’s antics in the background. We see an unexpected tonal shift in ‘Feet on the Ground’, an emotional solo from Nicole Tilby delving into Terri’s character, which ends up being one of the highlight vocal moments in the show. Great credit must be given to the directors and the choreographers (Ella Palmer, Maria Telnikoff, Ffion Godwin) for devising blocking and choreography that dealt extremely well with the two-metre rule: at times, it was easy to forget that this was impacting the production.
The great writing continues all the way to the end, where the finale number is interrupted by Melanie in a great moment of metatheatre, and for a second the finale seems at risk of being derailed in almost Pippin-esque fashion, before whimsically all is resolved and the play delivers its feel-good ending. Perhaps this is what brings the show’s elements together: No Cash never takes itself too seriously, and with self-awareness, whim and effervescence it hits all the notes it intends to.
So when’s the Spotify soundtrack dropping?