I’m not a big fan of musicals … There, I said it.

For me, the genre conjures up images of painted on stage school smiles with jazz hands and ridiculous storylines. After watching The Lion King on the West End, despite being impressed by the expansiveness of the production, I couldn’t help but think about how much of a douchebag the kid that played Simba was going to be when he grew up. Petty, I know.

With this pre-disposition, I was slightly reluctant to see Five Course Love. However, I figured that I have enjoyed many of Urban Aphrodite’s previous productions and, seeing as it’s kind of my job to write things, I chose to ignore my feelings towards the genre, hopped on my scooter and headed to Sasha’s.

Included in the price of your ticket is a full on feast and I have to give a tip of the cap to Sasha’s for the spread they put on. If you’ve been to a Sunday brunch there before, you’ll know that they don’t knock up a bad bit of grub. As you enter the 2nd floor you are greeted with a free glass of Prosecco, a plate, and 2 tables full of culinary delights that us Westerners don’t half miss while living out here in the Orient. Sausages, BBQ ribs, MAC’N’CHEESE (capitalised to emphasise my love for this particular dish) to name a few. I mean I know I shouldn’t spend this long talking about food in a theatre review, so I’ll just say this - you’re going to want to go in on an empty stomach.

After an hour or so of gorging myself on mountains of food and discounted wine the lights went down and the show began. I won’t leave you in suspense for long. I loved every minute of it. Honestly. I know what you’re thinking, “so, you claim not to like musicals, then say you love one that has the word ‘love’ in the title”. Did they slip something in my wine? Was my decision swayed by food glorious food? Am I now writing this with director Ann James pointing a gun to my head? No. (I realise you can’t know if the latter is true or not - I guess you’ll just have to trust me on this one.)

The show contains 3 actors playing 15 different characters between them in 5 different settings. The casting is excellent, with Deji Odunlami and Julia Carey’s impeccable singing voices and JP Lopez who provides the audience with laughs throughout as the waiter in each scene. We are taken to restaurants around the world, watching 5 different stories take place, finally ending in a heart-warming twist at the Starlight diner.

I think that the show’s main draw for me, as a non-musical-lover, is it’s snappy storylines and fast pace throughout. We never delve too deeply into any particular character but we find out just enough to get emotionally involved. There are no long, drawn out ballads that all sound exactly the same (I swear that Wicked is just one long song split into 1000 parts…). In fact, the different locations add to the variety of songs, from Mexico to Germany we hear a whole range of musical stylings, impressively all delivered with just a keyboard and a drum set.

So, there you have it, if I liked it then I honestly believe that anyone will. Urban Aphrodite took a risk and have provided Shanghai with a completely new theatrical concept, and by Jove, I think they’re onto a winner.

Tickets available from 247tickets.cn

May 15th through 25th doors open at 7:15, show begins at 8:15pm
(Thurs-Sun only)

Price: 400rmb per person includes meal and show

Couples package for 700rmb all inclusive as above.

The Menu: A delicious buffet selection of fresh vegetables and sides with a choice of fish or meat, plus one welcome glass of prosecco and free coffee and tea. Dessert buffet and conversation after the show. Other drinks available at the bar.

Location: Sasha’s second floor restaurant, 11 Dongping Lu a Hengshan Lu

Words by Peter Dixon