Wednesday 14 September 2022

Mamma Mia!

 Curve, Leicester

Tuesday 14th September, 2022


‘Without a song or a dance what are we?’


There’s no denying that the UK is in a strange place at the moment. A new Government, a looming recession, a cost of living crisis like none seen before… not to mention the death of our Head of State. September has seen the country plunge into the Twilight Zone. So now, more than ever, we need a little escapism. And Mamma Mia! is just the slice of cheesy sunshine to counter the doom and gloom of daily life. The show bursts with energy, laughter and stonking great music; it’s the epitome of feel-good.

Surrounded by the rustic idyll of a small Greek island, young Sophie hatches a plan to reunite her mother with the three men that may or may not be her father in time for her wedding. Friendship, romance, family bonds and second chances are explored and celebrated in delightfully pop-tastic style, while maintaining a very British sense of humour. The ABBA jukebox musical is over 20 years old now, and feels fresh yet timeless thanks to its simple storytelling and unpretentious production. Catherine Johnson’s book and Phyllida Lloyd’s direction let the relationships between characters lead the plot, fostering infectious camaraderie (who wouldn’t want to be friends with Donna and co?) and erring just on the right side of sentimentality. Amid all this, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ songs shine. Every number is a certified banger and the music has been carefully curated to fit the action, whether in heartfelt earnestness (‘Slipping Through My Fingers’), sucker-punching accuracy (‘The Winner Takes It All’) or tongue-in-cheek glee (‘Chiquitita’, 'Does Your Mother Know?').

The simplicity of the story and production also lets the large cast shine as they jive their way through party-like ensemble numbers such as ‘Voulez-Vous’ and the post-curtain Mega-Mix, while also allowing each individual character their moment in the spotlight. Sara Poyzer’s earthy Donna is wonderfully wry, yet truly soars during the musical’s more reflective moments. Nicky Swift and Helen Anker provide fine comedic support as Donna’s loyal friends Rosie and Tanya, and the latter’s relationship with a scene-stealing James Willoughby Moore (as cheeky, lust-struck Pepper) is a real highlight. The younger cast also impresses, in particular Jena Pandya excels at imbuing Sophie with youthful charm and wide-eyed naivety.

I’m struggling to think of a time at the theatre that was as filled with such unadulterated fun; Lloyd, Johnson, Andersson and Ulvaeus have created a gleefully giddy bop of a musical. The atmosphere was electric, the audience were ecstatic and mightily united in their jubilant reaction, and this current tour demonstrates why the show continues to be a sure-fire hit across the world. And with the recent announcement of a new TV casting show centred on Mamma Mia! the hype will surely continue for years yet to come. For a dose of bottled-joy and a tonic to everything else going on in the world right now you really can’t get any better.


Mamma Mia! plays at Curve until 24th September 2022.

For full tour details please visit:

Sara Poyzer and the cast of Mamma Mia!
Credit: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

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