If you have dislike for Glee—that shiny, all-American, auto-tuned cultural juggernaut—an a cappella choir might sound like your idea of a hellishly spent afternoon. However, you’d be missing a real treat. Fresh from their US tour, Exeter University’s Semi Toned have their act down to an art and their tongues very firmly in their cheeks. This has all the enthusiasm and joy of a traditional glee club, with none of the gushing sincerity.
Taking us through musicals, theme tunes and a possibly unhealthy amount of 90s pop, the group possess boundless energy; watching them might feel exhausting if they didn’t look like they were having so much fun. Much of the set is comprised of mash-ups, and these are expertly crafted. Highlights include the splicing together of Fiddler on the Roof/Gwen Stefani, and Uptown Funk/Low (the latter becoming, appropriately enough, ‘Lowtown Funk’). There are softer moments too—Damien Rice’s Blower’s Daughter is particularly fine—and the accompanying choreography, where it features, is sharp, slick and very silly.
There is nothing amateurish about the vocal talent either. A few voices are weaker than others, but overall the standard is high—rich baritones blend seamlessly with higher tenors and falsettos, and although there are only twelve young men, they are able to make an immensely powerful noise. The show takes an equal opportunities approach to the performers; different songs feature different soloists, so that everyone gets a turn in the spotlight.
Admittedly, despite a couple of beautiful renditions of the theme song, there’s little reference to Game of Thrones, aside from the punning title. However, only those with an extreme addiction to Westeros will be disappointed. For everyone else, there’s plenty to enjoy.