In Review

I Can't Sing – reviews of Harry Hill's musical X Factor spoof

'Wildly eccentric' X Factor spoof delights some critics, but doesn't go far enough for others

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What you need to know Musical comedy I Can't Sing has opened at the Palladium, London. Sean Foley directs the show written by comedian Harry Hill (TV Burp) with music by Steve Brown (Spitting Image, Alan Partridge).

I Can't Sing takes a wry, behind-the-scenes look at the world of television talent shows like The X Factor, satirising the backstage dramas, intrigues and romances. It stars EastEnders' Nigel Harman as the Simon Cowell-esque judge, with Cynthia Erivo and Alan Morrissey as a pair of love- and star-struck young talent-show hopefuls. Runs until 25 October.

What the critics like The show is "wildly eccentric and often wonderfully funny" – and it's splendidly rude about Cowell himself, says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. The performers give it all they've got, the set is spectacular and the whole delightfully bonkers show has a winning wit and warmth.

For fans of Harry Hill's madcap, juvenile satirical silliness, "it's a joy", says Ben Dowell in the Radio Times. This lavish show, bedecked with high production values and even higher hopes to be a smash hit is a four-and-a-half stars out of five effort.

The result is "an unashamedly populist show that's laced with satirical glee" and some thrilling performances, says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. It's a cheekily surreal and anarchic piece of entertainment, keenly aware of its own tackiness and triviality.

What they don't like While this deliberately daft and good-natured production ought to sizzle, "it is undermined by a flimsy plotline and parody that doesn't dig deep enough to reveal anything new", says Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times. The fairly predictable, often affectionate satire might work well as a short show, but at two and three quarter hours, it becomes a long joke.

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