No Spray No Lay

Nov 18 2023 | By More

Work in Progress

Augustine United Church: Fri 17/Sat 18 Nov 2023
Review by Thom Dibdin

What a piece of fun is to be had with No Spray No Lay, a new musical staged as a work-in-progress in the decidedly fringe-flavoured lower hall of the Augustine United Church for four performances only.

Produced by Bare Productions, the show is set in the women’s toilets of a busy nightclub, sometime in the recent past when MySpace was still a thing. Kat Dobell and Lara Dunning’s script follows the course of a typical night, as narrated by toilet attendant Vicki (Kike Hassan).

Publicity image: Kike Hassan. Pic No Spray no Lay

Here are the cliches of night culture. The girl who won’t listen to her bestie’s advice that she is too good for the boy she is desperately clinging on to. The girl who thinks she is too hot to handle and her frumpy pal who is along to make her look good. The sweaty ravers. And the lightweight who had too much pre-club drink and spends the night slumped in a cubicle.

They are well drawn in this somewhat minimal, one hour musical, which suffers – partly as a consequence of its brevity – from not having enough of several elements. That said, the maxim of leaving the audience wanting more certainly applies here.

Hassan has a natural way about her, although she needs more power in her musical numbers. She is almost always on stage, sometimes addressing the audience directly but more often interacting with the clubbers as she keeps her toilets in order.


Her fellow club worker is Deb the door-person. Abi Price makes her as much a womaniser as any cliched doorman, chatting up female audience members with a nice running joke that her intercom is still open so Vicki can hear every lascivious word. Price is maybe a shade over-exaggerated; a more steely demeanour might be funnier.

Publicity image: The No Spray No Lay company. Pic No Spray no Lay

The clubbers burst in and slink out. Abigail Nelson as the super-hysterical Crystaal who is certain she is the DJ’s girlfriend and Hannah Lorimer as her bestie Sahara, who is rather more aware. Nelson and Lorimer feed nicely off each other, and deliver their numbers well.

Hannah Childs is great fun as Laura, who is super-confident that everyone loves her and that she is the centre of all their worlds. Ruth Harris holds it all in, as her pal Jane – who largely seems to exist to hold Laura’s handbag.

Although, when Jane has had enough, Harris really lets go with the musical’s biggest tune, My Time to Fly, which she does in brilliant fashion as Jane comes out of her shell and, with a couple of drinks down her, proves as lecherous as anyone else. Harris works the audience superbly, even getting one of the unsuspecting men up on stage, for what turns out to be the musical’s pivotal sequence which brings the two pairs of girls into proper conflict.

best comic lines

In near constant support and billed simply as Sweaty Girls, Stacey Scott and Chiara Menozzi have a ball and provide many of the best comic lines – with Hassan feeding them with great timing – as the two regulars who are always on the verge of being barred; know where the naughty substances can be secured; and seem intent on bringing the dance floor into the toilets.

The toilets seem busier and the cast larger than they actually are, thanks to the hard work of ensemble members, Sarah Bradley and Daphne Nelissen. They appear in a number of guises to both help the plot and fill out the background, as well as providing the odd surreal moment, notably in a magnificent pigeon-orientated dance break.

Publicity image: Surreal pigeon dance break. Pic No Spray no Lay

Dobell and Dunning’s direction keeps the whole piece flowing, with the particularly successful placing of a set of hand basins, facing the audience where the mirror would be. The grey of the necessary cubicles is given a colourful graffiti makeover by @rango_edi and @painteranddecorator1.

As a work in progress, there is plenty that is already spot on. Equally, there is still plenty to develop. In terms of presentation, on one hand some of the trickiest elements such as the fight sequence are exceptional well done, on the other, the larger performances could tone down a shade – the writing is strong enough to hold the comedy. No need to gild it with excess.

The sound design of off-stage pounding bass is well done. However the backing track often feels underpowered during the actual musical numbers. And the numbers themselves are good enough to deserve greater prominence – at times they are just a snatched refrain when a more rounded number would work.

gender dynamics

The setting of the ladies toilet in a nightclub is not a new one, of course. Notably, Adura Onashile used it to great effect in her 2016 play Expensive Shit, set in nightclubs in Nigeria and Glasgow. Although more superficial in intent, No Spray No Lay has a similar ability to engage with gender dynamics, the perceptiveness with which it does so, certainly helps the comedy.

The whole piece is great fun, performed with no little gusto and devilment, and oozes potential. There is plenty here to make the prospect of its development and return at EdFringe 2024 a welcome one.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EL
Friday 17 – Saturday 18 November 2023
Fri: 6.30pm & 8.30pm; Sat: 3pm & 6.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Production Instagram page: @nospraynolaymusical


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