Theatre: Kinky Boots the Musical, Adelphi Theatre

BY PAUL LAGAN

The weight of expectations heaped upon children from their overbearing but swell-meaning parents can be like an albatross round their necks.

Failure to comply can lead to isolation, frustration, and depression – resulting in some cases from an early exit from the familial home – perhaps never to return.

Thankfully for Charlie Price, the inheritor of a failing shoe-making factory, he happens to come across Lola, a drag artist in need of some sturdy boots to cope with his less than petite frame.

Charlie is on the verge of moving from Northampton to London with his ambitious girlfriend, who wants to leave the provinces behind – Charlie is not so sure.

Oliver Tompsett (Charlie Price), Natalie McQueen (Lauren) and Simon-Anthony Rhoden (Lola) in Kinky Boots

Drawn back home to save the factory and the loyal staff from impeding redundancy by producing a niche set of ‘Kinky Boots’ Charlie embarks on a course of self-discovery that becomes a roller-coster of emotions.

In an age where personal identity is a hot topic, gender is no longer viewed as solely the province of male and female, Kinky Boots is slightly out of synch with the modern times, but is no less powerful in highlighting the chauvinistic and bigoted nature of the male psyche.

Also in a time of austerity, where the traditional industries are taking the hit, Kinky Boots is not afraid of highlighting the need to improvise in order to survive.

If this sounds like a lesson that needs to be learned, then it is, but it’s done in a typically flamboyant and, on occasions, highly amusing way.

Peppered with toe-tapping tunes, a kaleidoscopic array of colourful costumes and a pair of large, red glitzy boots, Kinky Boots is a joyous romp.

We all know that there will be a happy ending – but getting there will see the audience exposed to prejudice of the gender kind.

But at every stage, whether it be the stereotypical factory male, the sensitive Charlie or the lacking in inner-confidence Lola – prejudice is expunged – and rightly so.

The audience can see the transformation, align themselves to previously less appealing characters and revel in the ultimate showstopping tunes that take Charlie, Lola and the factory staff to Milan to show off their new Kinky Boots.

No one knows if there were buyers for the shoes, and if the factory was ultimately saved, or sold off to luxury housing. We can but hope.

Kinky Boots is at the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand until January 12 where it will go on a nationwide tour, starting in Northampton – of course it would.

Get tickets to see the show before it exits the capital. Go to http://www.kinkyboots themusical.co.uk/ for full details.

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