STAGE REVIEW: Little Miss Sunshine - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Tuesday, August 27 to Saturday, August 31, 2019.

THIS is a road trip you would not want to be part of, let alone have the slightest connection to any of the dysfunctional Hoover family it homes in on.

Featured amidst a host of swear words there’s a cocaine snorting, sex-addicted grandpa; a brother upholding a bizarre vow of silence; a tiny, early teenager with her heart set on a beauty contest; and parents clearly not happy with life and its responsibilities.

He is a father who believes ‘a book’ from his self-help blog is the route to fortune, and she a mother doing her damndest throughout to keep everyone onside.

You can also throw into the mix a gay uncle with suicidal tendencies…

All of them have a penchant for the products of fast-food outlets so predominant in America providing offerings at the family table of either chicken nuggets or beef-burgers - and for which there was clearly some product placement.

While they steer hundreds of miles west across country in a battered old VW Campervan from Albuquerque to a Californian coastal resort, the advice would be try and avoid them and head east.

The purpose of their adventure is to ensure tiny, bespectacled Olive, played in this occasion by Evie Gibson - one of three who take on the role, can compete in a child beauty pageant and thankfully it’s Olive who rides to the show’s rescue.

Older than her years and down to earth, she is a determined little soul who gives it her best shot with it all culminating in a risqué dance routine amplifying that point.

There was little else about this family, or their story, to win true audience affection as it took apart some of America’s national travails.

Not a chance of totally warming to any of the characters but at least it's colourful and has bags of energy.

There were also occasional moments of fine comedy - especially from Ian Carlyle’s Buddy as he hosted the beauty contest, and Lucy O’Byrne and Gabriel Vick managed to hit most of the right spots in their troublesome togetherness as family leaders.

It’s not possible to make comparisons of this musical version with the film of 2006 having not seen the latter, but it’s hard to contemplate this being a true musical.

It seemed too much of the same, nothing at all memorable or standing out - more of a competition to see who could belt out the words the loudest!

Somewhat difficult to recommend.