No Spray, No Lay, the creative child of Writers and Creative Directors – Kat Dobell & Lara Dunning has arrived at St. Augustine’s Church. Doubtless inspired by first-hand experience of the foreign land known as the ladies’ bathroom, this one-room Musical is quite the comical melodrama.
Presided over by the drama’s sanest character, Nightclub Bathroom attendant Vicki (Kike Hassan), what happens in the ladies’, stays in the ladies. Using the entirety of St. Augustine’s basement theatre, Vicki’s ally, and nightclub head of security Deb (Abi Price) roams the aisles, equipped with an eye for the ladies, and a ready supply of terrible chat-up patter. Even before the doors open, the pair’s walky-talky facilitated chat sets the scene for a night of larger than life personalities and associated misadventures.
First in, best friends Crystaal (Abigail Nelson) and Sahara (Hannah Lorimer), the former showing up to support her feckless DJ boyfriend. Bright-eyed and short on sense, Crystaal is blind to her beau’s many shortcomings and deaf to Sahara’s expectation-dampening efforts. The opening number, ‘Tonight is the Night’ is suitably kooky, playing up Crystaal’s unlikely dreams of a beautiful future with her ‘long-term boyfriend!’.
No Spray, No Lay introduces its strongest characters next, twin jesters The Sweaty Girls (Stacey Scott & Chiara Menozzi), who exist to enrich, and disrupt Vicki’s somewhat orderly bathroom domain. Their anthemic ‘Supersoldiers of the Night’ may also be the play’s catchiest song.
No Spray, No Lay‘s final lead characters, Laura (Hannah Childs) and the long-suffering, woolen-attired Jane (Ruth Harris), carry off their ‘It’ girl and follower schtick well. The latter’s journey from doormat to emancipation is familiar stuff, but funny, and relatable all the same.
Ultimately though the play revolves around Kike Hassan‘s character, one she portrays with a long-suffering, dignified humanity. Vicki deserves her own theme song as it were, but makes much of group numbers and small reprises. She narrates the life of the club between the regular invasions of her domain with wry humour and immense personability.
Now, the score as created by Dobell and Dunning (with help from Keith Scott, and James Stringer) is definitely serviceable but not hugely memorable as things stand. It’s important, at this point, to remember this is a work in progress, intended for a more developed showing at the 2024 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This lack of distinction may well evaporate by August. A little more attention to detail here, and in carving out more opportunities for Vicki to occupy the space between the silliness, could be transformative.
The signs are good however, not least to some inspired projection of photos made by the production team earlier, and detailing the fates and activities of off-stage characters. Indeed, when No Spray, No Lay‘s drama and comedy comes together, it is well worth a few belly laughs.
In the end, No Spray, No Lay does culminate with a suitably calamitous finale, the manic energy summoned by the cast throughout achieving a timely peak. Delightfully absurd, if a little rushed, it is a highlight of the hour and a joyfully silly cherry on this theatrical cake. This is very much Fringe theatre, and should play well to audiences hunting for easy bite-size musical comedy assuming it continues to enjoy the loving attention evident from the show’s punchy qualities at this stage in its development.
No Spray, No Lay is presented by BARE Productions