"They teach; you sing," is the billing for Choir!Choir!Choir! and, fair play, two-thirds of the way through this hour Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman have got us fudging our way through two-part harmonies in ‘Mamma Mia’.
There’s two relevant questions: how have they got us here; and where have they got us to? The ‘how’ is fairly obvious. From the top, Goldman and Adilman create a warm and, crucially, forgiving vibe. They work hard to bring guards down, reminding us that we’re entering a realm of “hardcore dorkdom”. The pair’s banter is a bit ropey, and it’s not always clear they are, erm, singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak. But they are undeniably charming, and even the stuffiest of unwilling participants cut loose. Together we work up a rapidly escalating scale of endeavour (this hour is a savagely cut-down version of their full touring show).
We speed through single notes and a ‘Stand By Me’ singalong, working up to the harmony and antiphony of the ABBA hit. It’s a whistle stop musical education, and it’s fun. The gains that could be made with five minutes of vocal tips, though, are not insignificant, which feels like a gap in the curriculum. Of course, the proof of the musical pudding is in the tasting. And therein lies the problem: we never really get a sense of how we sound, barring a crap recording on an iPhone held up to the mic. In the banked seating of a purple cow, we’ve no chance of hearing how far we’ve come. It’s, surely, not an insurmountable problem, but it does rather kill any sense of achievement that this Choir!Choir!Choir! might leave with.