Review: The CUMTS 24 Hour Musical: Love Island

Benjamin Lim 17 January 2019

★★★★

Like it or not, Love Island has taken the world by storm. From their water bottles to their juicy headlines, the ITV2 show is everywhere. The UK, Sweden, Australia – you name it, Love Island has been there. And now, the dating show has reached what may be its highest point yet: The 24 Hour Musical at the ADC Theatre in Cambridge.

Conceived, written, rehearsed and performed in just 24 hours, the production comprised of a series of hilarious musical vignettes set on The Island, each performed by up to three cast members. These were introduced by a usually convincing (and occasionally wobbly) Iain Stirling sound-a-like, as per the show, and tied together with the catchy full-cast opening and closing number, ‘Island of Love’.

The ‘story’ fully embraced the Love Island tropes: love triangles were set up and resolved in unexpected ways, a new islander arrived and – gasp – another was forced to leave. The melodrama perfectly complemented the extravagance of the musical genre, and was served with a healthy dose of self-awareness and satire. Particular highlights included the explanation of the DBS (if you need to ask, you’re not part of it) and a brilliantly cringy solo by the designated weirdo of the show (no prizes for guessing which college he was from). In a moment that truly captured the spontaneous spirit of this production, the director stepped in to replace a cast member at the last minute. Despite having no experience performing in musicals, she did an admirable job, propelled by whoops and cheers from the crowd.

Though not without their mistakes, the performances shone brightly as a showcase of the enormous skills of the whole cast. Their joy of being onstage was palpable and infectious; their movements were bold, their singing passionate, and our laughter genuine. Meanwhile, the script and direction cleverly utilised contrasting styles of music and dance to subvert expectations and highlight the absurdity of the whole enterprise. The jazzy accompaniment performed by a three piece band was continually excellent and served as a guiding structure for the show whenever it went off-piste.

Whilst the goal of many productions is to be entirely slick, with such a small amount of preparation this was always going to be a challenge for the ADC Islanders: lines will be forgotten, actors will drop out and improv will become the name of the game. By fully embracing this, the CUMTS team created an incredibly engaging and immersive experience. On the opening (and only) night, the large and enthusiastic audience was given the privilege of watching the show change and develop right before their eyes, with hilarious results. The cracks in the production only served to uncover more of the talents of the cast and crew – most importantly, everyone involved, whether watching, singing or playing, was having immense amounts of fun.

Seeing this performance was a unique experience, and I would highly recommend catching another 24hr Musical if possible. The cast and crew were pushed to their limits, resulting in a show that was raunchy, funny and exciting. It is scarcely believable that it was produced in such a short period of time. Unfortunately, it’s a one night only show – I only wish it could have lasted longer.