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Posts Tagged ‘Trevor Peacock’

I’ve waited 33 years for a revival of this show, which I first saw at The Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester in 1982, with Tom Courtney no less in the title role. It transferred speedily to The Aldwych in London, though it lost something in the new space, but hasn’t been seen since. After seeing it as part of the Finborough’s occasional Celebrating British Music Theatre series, I’m baffled as to why. It’s charming and funny (though more than a touch politically incorrect for today’s audience) and has some terrific tunes. It’s crying out for a bigger production and a longer run.

There aren’t that many shows based on a comic strip and this may be the only British one. Reg Smythe’s iconic character started in the northern edition of the Daily Mirror but eventually swept the world, featuring in 1700 newspapers in 14 different languages. With a book and lyrics by actor Trevor Peacock, who went on to create some classic TV characters, and music and lyrics by former Animal Alan Price, it’s very true to its source, capturing the world of work-shy Andy and his put-upon wife Flo, but revolving around the marriage of friend Elvis Horsepole to Raquel Scrmmett. Some of the sexist and misogynistic sentiments caused gasps from the audience, but they are what they were. There are lots of great tunes, most notably the ensemble pieces We’re Waiting, Good Evening and It’s Better To Be In Simple Harmony, which I recognised instantly and was singing all the way home (alone in the car, thankfully).

It’s a tough call to stage this on another play’s set in a tiny theatre, and it sometimes seems a bit cramped and crowded on stage, but Jake Smith pulls it off and the shows wins you over with it’s nostalgic charm, cheeky humour and above all uplifting music. They’ve assembled an excellent ensemble for just eleven performances. David Muscat is excellent as singing-narrator Geordie, as Price was in the original production. Roger Alborough and Lynn Robertson Hay are great as Andy and Flo. Paddy Navin brings the house down as Mrs Scrimmett, as does Terence Frisch as her husband, when he transforms from hen-pecked and mute to the man-in-charge during his daughter’s wedding.

I had a hunch it was a little gem waiting to be rediscovered and the Finborough has proven this conclusively.

 

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