Cheese seizing is a beloved tradition held on the spring bank holiday, when a 7 to 9-pound Double Gloucester is rolled down Cooper’s Hill for participants to follow. Good fun! When I saw Seize the Cheese! being presented at a Wine and Cheese tasting event earlier this year, I got excited, but unfortunately, this cheese was not seized to its full potential.

The show opens with the keeper of the cheese, who has magical powers instilled in her by the forest fairies. Those powers shall be used to help the cheese seizers overcome their fears and evolve their “inner me”. As the story unfolds, we are introduced to every participant and get to know their individual reasons for participating in the race. These stories, however, are mere glimpses into a particular point in the life of each person. It feels like we are zapping through the afternoon programme where one personal drama is followed by the next misunderstanding. In a flash, we get thrown a bone, before it gets taken away and replaced by the next story. There are so many characters and personal problems, that it is easy to get lost. Although each of those characters has their own moment to shine, the connecting element is lacking. Yes, we have the keeper meddling with things, and we get thrown back into the race very often with cast members running – or rolling – across the stage, but, in reality, Seize the Cheese! feels like individual pearls on a string rather than a tightly knit story.

Additionally, it seems like writer Mike Stocks was not entirely sure where to take this piece. Like the cheese seizers, it stumbles from intimate and insightful moments to explicit humour that does not always land. The songs are fun and easy to listen to, although only two of them stand out. Jodi Bird (Jasmine) and Laura Buhagiar (Rose) harmonise well when singing ‘Live Life to the Max’, however not all of the voices on stage are strong enough to be heard over the band. My personal highlight, however, is Travis Wood, the cheese with an attitude. His vocal range is enjoyable and ‘The Tears of a Cheese’ is a welcome addition to the personal problems on stage, even if it did not fit well into the overall compendium.

I can see why the show was chosen by ATG and the New Wimbledon Theatre for their “Premieres” season, as it has some elements worth exploring. I think, if the focus would be reduced to two out of the various storylines, and more emphasis is placed on the story of the keeper, this could be something. But although the concept of Seize the Cheese! sounds intriguing and worth exploring, the current realisation is not as round as the Double Gloucester. 

Rating: 2 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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