What happens when one man decides to sing instead of speak for two whole months? Greg McLaren found out.
That is the premise behind Doris Day Can F__k Off. It’s fairly straightforward and pretty easy for an audience to get behind. McLaren makes this acceptance all the easier by launching into some audience participation right from the start of the show (Asking members of the audience to sing their names in various ways: “Sing your name as though you are trapped forever in an ancient gnarled oak tree” for example). Of course, it starts off a little awkwardly. No one was expecting this, but somehow it creates a bond that grows throughout the show. Soon, singing seems perfectly natural and a fairly normal way for an entire theatre production to be delivered.
Over the course of an hour, seven chapters and two revelations, the story of Greg McLaren’s two musical months unfolds. There’s not a lot to reveal. Greg sings, the public either feels uncomfortable or sings back. That’s it. But that doesn’t seem to matter so much. The narrative depth is counteracted by the original and engaging way the show is constructed. In a wonderfully operatic style, the story is told through libretto and various poignant moments are reinforced and supplemented with full songs. And there lies one of the shows highest points. McLaren performs a series of brilliantly crafted songs, utilising guitar, keyboard, and snippets of voice recordings he took during the two months. Each one is cleverly written, musically sound and funny to boot. If you are a fan of Flight of the Conchords’ wordplay or Bill Bailey’s musical interludes, you will have no trouble revelling in McLaren’s songs about the history of language and post-structuralist traffic wardens.
If there is any issue with this show, it is that McLaren does not seem to reach any hard conclusions about his two month experiment. There are two quite emotionally driven moments in which he reveals both, what the experiment caused him to realise (I won’t spoil it for you) and why Doris Day and singing mean so much to him, but they exist as unconnected flashes along the road of his story. Luckily this doesn’t bring the show down at all. The fact that the majority of time that McLaren is on stage is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny means that you can allow for the one minor weakness.
I often get disappointed by one man shows, but certainly not this time. Doris Day Can F__k Off is a theatrical and musical treat.
Doris Day Can F__k Off is showing at the Soho Theatre until Saturday 23rd of June.
Greg McLaren’s other work and projects can be seen here.