Crocodile Rock – Traverse Theatre

Directed, Composed, and Written by Andy McGregor

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In Millport, there’s a rock shaped like a Crocodile. Spoilers, that’s where Andy McGregor gets the title for their comedic and heartfelt musical from. And this rock, projected onto Kenny Miller’s set dressing, hides Stephen Arden, star of this musical extravaganza, as he waits to share his tale with the world about how he grew to accept himself, embark off the island, and create the fabulous, and courageous Millie Port.

It’s the ultimate cacophony for small-island target practice: Stephen just doesn’t fit in. He’s awkward, works in his dad’s pub, and he’s just starting to figure out that he might prefer boys to all the girlfriends his dad’s regulars keep harping on about. And what’s more, he might have a part of himself which is desperate to burst out. All it takes is a touch of lippy, and a boost of self-confidence from the one and only Vincente Miguel, Queen of Barcelona.

There are, as some might notice, comparisons to be drawn from a similar tale of a young boy who finds themselves through the influence of a Drag Queen, and while Everybody Talkin’ Bout that boy, A lot more should be discussing this one. There are undeniable parallels with the Westend Musical, but the distinct locality of the show bolsters it on home turf, and in truth, aspects of McGregor’s script transcend above the more schlocky show-tune nature and infuse a more genuine sense of self to the role of Stephen – whose honesty and interactions with his wee maw, and less than adoring father, locate the soft, quivering underbelly beneath Crocodile Rock’s hard armour.

Disarming any who remain unsure of the premise, and indeed the location of Millport, Arden is a spiffing host for the evening. And he isn’t a shy one either, ensuring the audience feels a part of the story – but without the dreaded sense of involvement. A few rhetorical questions, and requests to sing along, builds a much-needed rapport under McGregor’s direction. It verges on an operatic without these small sequences, as much of McGregor’s composition is a through-and-through musical, with tremendous live music and the occasional ballad from musicians Kim Sheperd, Simon Donaldson, and Andy Manning. Despite vocals, however, significant portions of the songs fail to leave a mark, a couple running into one another’s rhythm and tempo, but lyrically McGregor’s songs make an impact and further the story.

Peculiarly, despite the 75minute run-time, Crocodile Rock comes over as rushed – yet it still drags to complete the narrative arc, bringing Stephen’s story to a complete circle. Small dips in momentum cause Arden to pick up the pace in additional scenes which require that lost time for the pain to settle and make an impact. It is otherwise a rather gorgeous piece, which accepts itself for precisely what it is – and builds to a gorgeous, and fantastical finale which blows the cobwebs out the back of the theatre and reminds those unable to see the wonder in this life what they’re missing out on.

Blow Out The Cobwebs

Crocodile Rock tours to the Aberdeen Lemon Tree on November 4th. Tickets for which may be obtained here.

Further information for which may be obtained here.

Photo Credit – Tim Morozzo

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