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Starter for Ten - Bristol Old Vic REVIEW

David Nicholls is more known than ever at the moment his One Day love story being transformed into a hit Netflix TV series but he’s got success on stage as well with his novel Starter For Ten making its world premiere at Bristol Old Vic this week. 

Directed by Charlie Parham, with book and lyrics by Parham and Emma Hall, this very British musical follows the story of 18-year-old Brian who starts at Bristol University, experiencing trials of love, studies and friendship, as well as a chance at his dream to be on University Challenge. 

Brian played by Adam Bregman endearing personality evokes sympathy from the opening scenes even when following the wrong path and chasing the posh blonde bombshell played by Emily Lane rather than supporting his fellow student and only friend, Rebecca, played by Eubha Akilade. Will Jennings captures the audience from the get-go with his hilariously over-the-top portrayal of the University Challenge captain complete with a teddy bear and low alcohol tolerance. 

Scene stealer, Mel Geidroyc plays her generic Essex mum role with heart and humour as well as a Thatcher-esque game show adjudicator and owner among various other roles. The versatile ensemble supports well and creates a full feeling to a sometimes minimal set. 

There are some scenes and exposition that needs ironing out and developing in particular the argument scene between Brian and Rebecca but with work I hope these can be strengthened to further support the plot and character development. 

There are some wonderful Bristol references sprinkled without which I wonder about their shelf life if this show continues on beyond the Bristol Old Vic - which I hope it does. 

This show won’t win awards for groundbreaking storytelling and lavish production values. Still, a wonderful mix of fun characters, well-delivered jokes and a large helping of 80s nostalgia makes this a great night out. 

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