Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area, Underbelly Cowgate, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society.
Jamie Bisping and Amaya Holman (writers – book and lyrics), Laurence T-Stannard (composer), Caroline Yu (director), Finlay Stafford (musical director), Xenia Haslam (assistant musical director), Isobel Griffiths (producer), Lucy Thompson (choreographer), Genevieve Williams (assistant director), Theo Heymann (lighting designer), Dmitry Bashtanov (sound designer), Michelle Spielberg and Theo Heymann (set designers).
Sophie Foote (Phyllis), Conor Dumbrell (Luci Furr), Annabelle Haworth (Bridget), Joe Pieri (Nicki), Jamie Williams (Vicki), Ella Burns (Karen). Band - Finlay Stafford (drums), Xenia Haslam (keyboard), Sam Glass (bass), Liam Shinar (violin), George Speck, Evie Rae (saxophone), Victoria Starling (trombone).
Running time

An unexpected item in the bagging area might be the least of your worries in this particular struggling supermarket.

A number of things seem surprising, such as the fire threatening to run out of control in the aisles or the pilfering armed school children and the rabid rodents.

And then there’s the staff. They may be committed employees, but they seem unsuited to their roles. Checkout operator Vicki kicks off the day with alcohol-laced coffee before gossiping with colleague Nicki, who sees no wrong in dipping into the till.  At least they have Bridget, the baker and acting floor manager, control freak and campaigner.  She is Employee of the Month - every day.

More underappreciated is Phyliss, the “Fish Girl” who harbours a crush on egotistical Bridget.  The aphrodisiacal qualities of seafood apparently getting things wet as she makes it plain that she wants to “eat her trout”.  They are not sure whether Karen actually is an employee and suspect her of eating cat food. New start Sammy on the salad bar is not all he seems, having no love of lettuce and a propensity for pets and evil plans.

With passions, jealousies and hates stacked up, the improbable plot veers off like a wonky supermarket trolley.

This energetic comedy musical has shelf loads of puns and questionable rhymes in largely well-performed musical numbers.  The songs are strong, if less attuned to the action at the conclusion.  Movement is hampered by the staging and the production values, in general, are towards the “own brand” end of the market.

It’s unlikely to be queuing to check out any awards but this sort of silliness is entirely suited to the Fringe.


Show Times: 1 to 25 (not 13) August 2019 at 3.45pm.

Tickets: £10 (£9) to £11(£10). 

Suitability: 12+.