SAY MY NAME
The Breaking Bad Parody Musical
A review by Hans Rimmstein
As we are shepherded through the small and dark ‘Theatre N16’ and are placed onto our chairs, I’m not sure what to expect of ‘Say My Name, the Breaking Bad Parody Musical.’ As a Breaking Bad and musical fan, it seems like the perfect combination, but my general wariness for the term ‘parody’ still leaves me slightly on edge.
Luckily, within the opening minutes, my mind is put to rest as the talented and relatively small cast (6 members in total, playing a variety of different characters from the TV series) proceed through the entire plot of all five seasons of the hit US drama, embodying it’s list of eccentric characters and thought-provoking themes.
The stage is adorned with varying musical instruments and a minimalist but effective set, and every element is used to its maximum potential. Keytars fill in for guns – it’s low on budget but high on creativity, which really pays off. The small stage transitions from Walter White’s home, meth lab or the offices of D.E.A are seamless.
Just as versatile are the stunning and multi-faceted cast that move from instrument to instrument and character to character with ease and aplomb. Matt Tweddle takes on the iconic role of Walter White and his drug lord persona Heisenberg, and excels in the role. It’s hard finding a creative space for such a well-established character, but Matt makes the role his own with his great comic timing and fantastic singing voice.
The scenes with Heisenberg as a serious and threatening character do feel slightly off tonally, compared to the general whimsical and absurdist comedy present within the rest of the musical (at one point he appears as a giant bag of drugs during one of Jesse’s trips) – but Tweddle does well in finding the physicality of the character. Songs like ‘I Am The Danger’ really show off his acting and singing chops. Other standouts include Scott Brooks who plays Hank, Walter’s brother-in-law and musical director Rob Gathercole, who perfectly brings out the slimy charm of Saul.
‘Say My Name’ does an excellent job at ‘spoon feeding’ the audience, by providing them with just enough information and explanation of what’s going on that you don’t necessarily have to have watched the TV show to understand the story. There is a literal and hilarious round-up of season four with literal spoons, and the musical is filled with these gems and fourth wall breaks to help the audience through what is an entire TV show’s plot in an hour and a half.
There are also nuggets of inside jokes for the more invested viewer of the show, meaning it really caters for all members of the audience. This musical does it’s best work when it has the ability to laugh at the current tropes of serial television and plays on heightened personalities of the show’s characters. To my surprise and delight, it really lives up to the ‘parody’ title.
Musically, ‘Say My Name’ is on the level of most West End musicals. With interesting motifs (and variations of throughout), witty and humorous lyrics, and fantastic musical accompaniment from the cast – Gathercole has done a fine job in writing an interesting and engaging score. I’m looking forward to following his career closely and he certainly has a lot to live up to with this outing.
Overall, ‘Say My Name’ has it all. A shining cast, excellent jokes and laughs per minute. A must see for all fans of Breaking Bad, and worth the exploration of any comedy musical fan.