‘A few wry smiles and a couple of gentle cringes’ – Theatre Camp review | Films | Entertainment


The mockumentary is nothing new. And TV licence holders can see the funniest one ever made on BBC1 on Tuesday night.

Theater Camp, an affectionate ribbing of children’s musical theatre, is nowhere near as accomplished as Rob Reiner’s 1984 heavy metal spoof This Is Spinal Tap.

The songs aren’t as catchy, the lines aren’t as sharp and there are no mishaps with badly measured stage props. But a game cast delivers a few wry smiles and a couple of gentle cringes.

The setting is an upstate summer camp in New York where misfit kids get to air their jazz hands while preparing a show for their doting parents.

A documentary crew captures a crunch year for the camp after a strobe light sends founder Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris) into a coma while scouting for new recruits.

Her utterly idiotic “influencer” son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) takes over, only to find the camp is on the brink of bankruptcy. As the self-appointed business genius tries to save it, luvvie teachers Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) and Amos (Ben Platt) decide to stage Joan, Still, a musical biopic about their ailing founder.

The closest thing to a quotable line involves a teary performer being called “the Lance Armstrong of acting” for secretly using a tear stick.

But I suspect co-directors Gordon and Nick Lieberman over-estimated their cast’s capacity for improvised comedy. A tighter script may have reined in some of their performances.

Gordon and Platt are suitably theatrical but Tatro really turns it up to 11.

Theatre Camp, Cert 12, In cinemas now


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