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Sunday, 20 July 2008

Mamma Mia!

Let's be honest: if you're not already an ABBA fan, there's pretty much zero chance you'll be interested in a musical comprised entirely of ABBA tracks. So for you, this review is brief: stay away from Mamma Mia! It's so stuffed full of ABBA tracks by the end your ears will be bleeding and the cheeseball story built around said tracks isn't going to compensate you for the trauma of Pierce Brosnan's not-that-good-at-all singing voice. If, on the other hand, you're an ABBA fan, or just a fan of cheesy musicals in general, then the good news is that Mamma Mia! does pretty much everything right - and when it does get something wrong it doesn't linger at the scene of the crime. The story, which by the way has nothing to do with ABBA the band, involves a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) who's about to get married at her mother's shabby holiday resort on a Greek island. Her mother (Meryl Streep) never told her who her father was, so when she discovers her mother's old diary - which suggests three possible candidates for the job (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard) - she invites them all to the wedding thinking she'll know her father on sight. She doesn't, and many, many, many ABBA songs ensue. Musically the singing isn't always great (Brosnan is no good at all) and a few of the songs seem shoe-horned in, but mostly the story manages to fit the right ABBA track in at roughly the right point. The performances are high energy and not at all subtle - which means they fit the tone perfectly - and in the end the whole thing is one big hunk of campy fun. Unless you don't like ABBA, in which case why would you even bother?

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #432)