The future of a major tour of the West Country by DTT [Dorset Touring Theatre] in conjunction with TUTC [the trulyuselesstheatrecompany] is in serious doubt today as company chiefs debate whether, following cast illness, poor reviews and even poorer sales, they should bring down the curtain prematurely on the not-so-long-running quasi anthropomorphic musical Factz!. The lavish multi-pound production, directed by Evita Boulevard and choreographed by Phantome Joseph, was expected to "run and run" [Rampisham Record] despite the fact that it had been coolly received at its Poyntington premiere.
Now the 18 theatre-goers who have already bought tickets must wait and see how things develop over the next 24 hours, though they will not be encouraged by news that backers Baths&Bidet's 'R Us are considering "pulling the plug" on the tour's heavily haemorrhaging finances. "Based on perennial family favourite Professor Thrupiece's Book of Improbable Scientific Facts, the show has had a troubled history from the get-go", writes our Theatre Correspondent Pru Senium-Archer [who ought to know better than to use a term like "get-go" [Ed]]. Criticised by Thrupiece purists for its perverse selection of stories [it excludes, for example, the well-known and highly theatrical tale of the cow, the catheter, the stray spark and the huge explosion but includes, instead, the more intimate and "almost unstageable" story of the boy with long arms and holes in his pockets] as well as by musical theatre experts who claim that creator Andrew Lloyds-Pharmacist [who wrote the book and lyrics as well as, quite possibly, "some of the music"] has nothing new to offer, trotting out instead the usual tired old tropes. Whilst the same charge did not seriously damage his previous 23 shows, some believe Factz! may now be a step too far and that "a new tune, failing which a new rhythm, wouldn't go amiss".
After two consecutive performances in Edmondsham last week, the show was expected to open at the Hippodrome Thornford today and to run elsewhere for much of 2020. However, Factz! has already gained the tag of "unluckiest musical [with an exclamation mark] ever" having been dogged by misfortune and subject to a number of cancellations and curtailments during its runs in Poyntington, Upway, Whelme, Ringsted, Pilsden, Little Bredy, Organford, Milton on Stour, East Creech, Rampisham, Chettle and Ibberton. Partly a result of production difficulties - Tour Manager Todd "Toadie" Roadie says that "the technical demands imposed by the show are such that they have sometimes proven too great a challenge for the infrastructural capacity of the receiving theatres properly to meet them," [Roadie was educated in the 1970s at the University of Afpuddle and can both read and write] - and partly from illness and injury to key cast members. Lead vocalist and show narrator [in the guise of a feline Professor Thrupiece!!??] Michael Ballsup has twice sprained a testicle in an ascending passage, requiring his part to be transposed up a semitone on each occasion. The resultant change to the ensemble harmony was such as to make it sound "quite pleasant" - an unintentional effect which the composer found both unexpected and disturbing and has asked the company "to avoid again at all costs".
As we write it remains uncertain whether or not this week's performances at the Hippodrome Thornford will go ahead. "He is currently dunking them in luke-warm water and hoping the pain will ease", a spokesperson for the Company said, "but when you've sprained them that many times there's only so much elasticity left and they take a while to go back into place".
Anyone considering going to the Hippodrome this week is advised to contact the Box Office in advanced though we are told that queueing - even for the cheapest seats - is unlikely.