Bromance: The Dudesical ★★★★

Boys just wanna have fun in this lively American import

There’s a cartoon quality to Michael Ian Walker and Kyle Ewalt’s lovable ‘dudesical’. And thanks to their catchy numbers and clever rhymes and Sarah Redmond’s spot-on production, it’s a quality cartoon. Think The Three Musketeers meets Seth Macfarlane’s Family Guy, the animated send up of an all-American family. It sometimes verges on gross, but it’s endearing just the same.

Meet the bros: Tom, Dick and Harry, Chicago’s finest. In opening number ‘Welcome to Guyville’, they’re hanging out in Peg Leg’s Irish Pub on ‘St Pat’s Day’, where, thanks to Redmond’s inclusive staging and her cast’s expansive body language, the audience is immediately cast as fellow patrons. It’s a fine introduction to the world of “beer, brotherhood and brocabulary”, where “a bro’s so much more than a friend” and everything is done according to the ‘book of brotocol’.

 A terrific trio of bromantically monikered guys – Cellen Chugg Jones (Tom), Robbie Smith (Dick) and Richard J Hunt (Harry) – play the bromantic brotherhood. The obliging barmaid is played by the versatile Esme Laudat in the first of a fine clutch of deftly sketched ‘she-bros’ (sultry chanteuse, sexy croupier, bossy fiancée).

Then, like the start of a joke, geeky Jewish (the ‘He-bro’ Hebrew) IT worker Marty (appealing Joshua Gannon) walks into the bar looking, if not for love, then for friendship. Marty, a newcomer to town, is cute and naïve and Dick is big-hearted, so despite the initially ruffled feathers of the other two, Marty is in.

First, however, he must learn those rules of brotocol and bond over the bro’s favourite bromantic movie, Point Break, starring bro-idols Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. His final test is to evade his scary boss and go AWOL on a road trip. The bros bill this as “being a migrant without having to migrate”. Though it starts innocuously enough at a ball game and a late-night fast food joint, it ends in the air in (or out of) a pretty scary plane.

Is it worth the trip? The script is fun (with occasional bad language), the songs are sparky and the bros (and she-bro) play it all to the hilt. Redmond’s staging is expertly paced and placed and her choreography is exuberant and energised. Dan Gillingwater’s fun, illustrative design ranges from oversized cardboard cut-out beer bottles to a miniature cardboard car. MD and keyboard-player Andy Smith leads a fine four-piece band (Lewis Turner guitar, Rob Levy base, Gary Cubberley drums). There’s a great ride in store for everyone who goes with the bro-flow (yes, it’s catching).

By Judi Herman

Photos by Andy Keelan

Bromance: The Dudesical runs until Wednesday 24 October. 8pm (Mon-Sat). £10-£20. The Other Palace, SW1E 5JA. 020 7087 7900.