“This is like children’s theatre for 40-year-old gay people,” squeals Calliope, muse of Epic Poetry half way through Xanadu, and to judge from the hoots of pleasure and clutching of pearls on opening night at the Hayes Theatre, they’ve pretty much hit target audience. The show, a 2007 take on a 1980 Olivia Newton-John film so bad the Golden Raspberries were allegedly created just to do it justice, can lay reasonable claim to be the campiest of all the campy retro musicals on the scene. Its secret weapon is that it’s trash and it knows it, and in the right hands it can be a genuine laugh a minute kitsch-fest. In the case of this staging, while the hard-working cast and James Browne’s gloriously tacky costumes make for some luridly tacky fun, Nathan M. Wright’s directorial hands only prove intermittently the right ones for the job, in a show that’s too often a case of swings and roundabouts – or should that be glitterballs and spandex?

Jaime Hadwen and Ainsley Melham

The plot is straightforward, if slight. It’s Venice, California circa 1980. Mural painter Sonny Malone is about to top...