Perhaps one of the more unusual venues for a show, Neon194 (a nightclub) in London's Piccadilly Circus, Rehab the Musical is gearing up for what looks to be a stellar, albeit short run. At first glance, one could wonder how a show which contains strong themes and all that it contains, makes for comfortable viewing.


And that is the point of this gem of a piece of theatre.  Lived experiences allow for a deeper understanding and integrity when it comes to representation of how addiction reflects and presents in different stances. Both songwriters Grant Black and Murray Lachlan Young have experience and expertise in this area and it is clear that careful thought and integrity have gone into this production.


However, the opening scenes of Rehab had me on edge. A brash pop star, Kid Pop, singing in a rough voice, was caught taking drugs by the paparazzi and then ordered by a judge to go to rehab (I could almost hear Amy saying no, no, no).

However, this unusual opening laid the way for a beautiful story, as the characters in rehab were introduced, battling their demons, facilitated by an ex-alcoholic mentor, Martha, played by Micha Paris, MBE. Phil (Oscar Conlon-Morrey) is struggling with overeating due to his penchant for wearing female clothes. Conley-Morrey is a very safe pair of hands, his sublime voice being highlighted in its flawless style. Barry Bronze (John Barr) is addicted to tanning, Jane Killy, the ex-bond girl, with her addictions. They tried to be open and address their issues then Kid Pop was thrown into the mix-arrogant, aggressive and hurtful to others.


Kid Pop upsets Phil over his weight then discovers him dressed up as Philipa. Kid tries to make amends but Phil is unforgiving, however, cue pitch change, Philipa is able to forgive, she's his escape. Kid is reluctant, cue an injection of humour as Philipa goes all male and northern and demands an {expletive} dance. Gary Lloyd choreographs and directs and is full of flair and fun.


After each truly touching insight into these troubled characters there's strong humour. Barry Bronze shows a pic of himself looking mahogany and explains that ‘now with therapy, he looks like Snow White without the effing seven dwarves'.  Jane talks to her daughter about her addictions and says she was ‘self-obsessed and would have turned off my life support to charge your phone'. Jane is thoughtful and says yes, ‘I probably would have'. It is moments like that that bring human experiences to the piece.

As Kid starts to mellow and get in touch with his feelings, trouble is brewing. Along comes Lucy with a beautiful singing voice played by Maiya Quansah-Breed. Kid wants her to be his next conquest, a fly by night, however they develop feelings for each other. ‘I'd rather wait', says Kid when things progress, although he's never said that before. But Lucy is not what she seems. She's been paid to be there by Kid's ruthless, blackmailing agent.


Polaroids of Kid and Philippa are leaked to the press, and meltdowns follow.  Martha tries to keep a lid on these vulnerable characters but struggles. There's soul-searching deception, emergency hospital admissions, lives hanging by a thread or are things not what they seem? What will become of Kid after he finally opens his heart to Lucy who has deceived him? 


Rehab is a powerful mix of the fragility and imperfections of life, laced with humour, and cemented by such beautiful vocals. It is a true reflection of current-day issues and covers those that have always been prevalent. I think we could all go with seeing and being reminded of, how whether you are a celeb or the next person you see on the Tube, we are all fighting battles that no one knows of; the true message of Rehab? Be kind.


Review: Kay Johal     Photos:  Mark Senior