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Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Rose Read’

You only have one week left to see this UK premiere of a fascinating 1939 Broadway musical revue which started as a piece of left-wing satire by amateur trade union players. The timing could not be better and it’s been given a small but clever bit of updating that makes parts of it relevant enough to be performed by occupying students and Topshop invaders!

It was originally intended to be staged at the Arcola, but it’s much more at home in the smaller Cock Tavern which has been cleverly turned into a mini proscenium arch theatre with a curtain incorporated into Samal Blak’s design that could easily have been made from scraps of spare cloth by the ladies of the ILGWU (the union that originally staged it).

The show comprises 19 sketches and songs on a multitude of subjects  running for an uninterrupted 90 minutes. There are swipes at Mussolini and Hitler years before Mel Brooks gave us The Producers, comments of American nationalism and British colonialism, a satire on arts funding and artistic freedom and a song about advertising which amazes you with name-checks of brands of the time that are still with us today. Harold Rome’s songs are catchy and witty and somehow it has a lovely period feel but at the same time feels fresh and relevant.

I don’t know who does the casting at the Cock Tavern, but like the Bond plays they’ve assembled a hugely talented cast of nine, none of whom a theatre obsessive like me has seen before. They all deserve a name check, so they’re getting one! David Barnes, Mark Gillon, Laura-Kate Gordon, Josephine Kiernan, Elain Lloyd, Elizabeth Pruett, Rachel Rose Read, Matthew Rutherford and Adam Walker. David Preston plays all of the songs on the piano, occasionally joined by Rutherford on double bass. Director Rachel Grunwald is to be congratulated for the staging and for giving us the opportunity to see this fascinating show.

Seeing Fela! at the subsidised NT and this at the unsubsidised Cock Tavern in the same weekend certainly focused my mind on how our arts subsidies are shared around!

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