Review: We've Got Each Other

Paul O'Donnell hilariously pitches us a giant of a musical inspired by the masterwork of Jon Bon Jovi

★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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We've Got Each Other by Paul O'Donnell. Image: Alex Brenner.
Published 03 Aug 2018

Paul O'Donnell has written a musical. A giant of a musical with celebrity casting, huge sets, confetti cannons and trombones, inspired by the mighty masterwork of Jon Bon Jovi. But Fringe slots are only an hour, so... With a charmingly self-effacing humility, O'Donnell hilariously pitches the full production to us in snippets of sound, precision dance moves and personal reflection. It shouldn't work, but boy, it does!

O'Donnell is a deceptively accomplished theatre-maker. He has penned an unashamedly feel-good show and, what's more, makes us realise why we need to feel good, and why audiences keep choosing the all-singing all-dancing escapism of big budget musicals. This is not a gratuitous gimmick, but the thorough work of a superfan – complete with a philosophical underpinning so often evident in fandom creations.

If people are unfamiliar with the hyper-stereotyped tropes of commercial musical theatre O'Donnell parodies, the show's pastiche risks coming across as just cringeworthy cultural misrepresentation – the faux-Español used by several of his narrated characters, for example, teeters on the bounds of acceptability. A familiarity with the big-budget Broadway genre will also help with some of the theatre-industry in-jokes. 

Performed almost entirely by one man sitting in a nondescript chair, reading from a brown ringbinder, We've Got Each Other nonetheless transports us through emotional scenes and dramatic revelations. The supporting role of 'Techie' brings additional humour to the meta-theatrical script and, yes, we even get a sing-along moment. 

Mic technique will, hopefully, strengthen as the show runs in, minimising the lip-smacking and sudden spikes of volume that distract a little from the otherwise solid delivery. When O'Donnell sings snippets of the imaginary audio-described action, extra delight is added to an already delightful hour.