Head Over Heels

"It packs a punch full of punk edginess"

‘Head Over Heels’ – the punk rock jukebox musical makes its UK premiere at the stunning Hope Mill Theatre for five weeks only and I am here to tell you why you must go-go to see this radiant and uplifting production. 

Based on ‘The Arcadia’ by Sir Phillip Sidney, and the hit songs from 1970’s all-female punk rock band The Go Go’s, the story follows a royal family on a journey to save their kingdom from extinction. On their way, they begin to discover new things about themselves which is key to the survival of their realm. This is a show that radiates self-love, acceptance and self-discovery, which I personally think is vital in this current time. The storyline does seem slightly thin on the ground at times and lacks any real depth. The script follows the 16th century speech which at first can be a little bit daunting and hard to follow, but you soon get up to speed and it lends a hand to some really funny moments. With these comedic moments, high-energy choreography and fun musical numbers, it takes its place as being a fun few hours at the theatre.  

The Hope Mill Theatre is one of my favourite theatres as the space is always used extremely well to make a story come to life. This theatre seems to be the perfect venue for a punk-rock jukebox musical with dark walls, which have been cleverly decorated with black and white posters around the walls and a light up ‘Arcadia’ sign above the band. There are no fancy set pieces and technological set changes but there is good use of comical props which helps move the story along. Being a 90’s baby, I am not overly familiar with the jam-packed discography of The Go Go’s. However, this did not ruin my experience in the slightest as the songs had me toe-tapping in my seat and lent themselves perfectly to the overall punk theme of the show.  

There have been many current discussions about the lack of representation within casting and it is incredible to see that this is not the case with this production. With a storyline that focuses on self-discovery, acceptance and sexual awakenings, it is so refreshing to see that representation radiates within this cast. With an all-star casting, it was obvious that we would be witness to some fantastic entertainment and they truly did not disappoint.  

Whilst there was only a small ensemble cast of four members, it was evident that they deserved their place on the stage. With the helping hand of Tom Jackson Greaves direction and choreography, they played a vital part in the storytelling and had such high energy throughout the entire performance that it was difficult to take my eyes off them. Iz Hesketh who plays Phythio has such stage presence which completely entrances you as they play the part of the oracle figure. Jenny O’Leary plays Pamela, the beautiful older sister whose family wishes for her to seek a suitor. I particularly loved this casting since Jenny is a plus sized actress, and it felt so refreshing to see an alternative body type play this kind of role. Jenny radiated beauty whenever she stood on the stage, with incredible vocals and a hilarious and slightly psychotic character which easily made her the standout performer for me. 

West End favourites Luke Bayer and Maiya Quansah Breed were also incredible in their performances. Luke is so naturally talented at what he does and has such a likeable personality which he radiates into the character he plays. Maiya is an incredible vocalist, and her gentle and playful nature suits the role that she plays – the young lovestruck girl who wishes to marry the shepherd and go against her father’s wishes. 

‘Head Over Heels’ is a jukebox musical comedy which takes us on a journey of understanding the importance of acceptance and allowing people to be their most authentic self. It packs a punch full of punk edginess, campness and high energy choreography that gives a fun escape at the theatre. 

Head Over Heels is playing at the Hope Mill Theatre until the 4th March 2023.  Tickets available here: Head Over Heels – Hope Mill Theatre

Review written by Vicky Humphreys

Photo credit: Pamela Raith

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