Thursday, 22 March 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful


Dundee Rep
4 stars
It’s not every show that finds its cast serving square crisps to the 
audience as they enter a noisy auditorium that has a full band set-up 
gracing a mocked-up pub function room venue. Yet that’s exactly how 
disabled company Graeae launch into their Ian Dury inspired musical, 
co-produced with the New Wolsey Theatre, which goes for a full-pelt 
recreation of the  spit and sawdust aesthetic that existed before  
Lloyd-Webberisation turned everything into soulless cash cow spectacle.
 
At one point there’s even a cheeky nod to Mamma Mia, a show with 
similar fringe roots as this 1979-set yarn about die-hard Dury-ites 
Vinnie and Colin, who singularly fail to get to see their idol in 
residence at Hammersmith Odeon during the height of his chart success.
Taking in attitudes to death, sex, prejudice and low-rent ambition 
during the early days of Thatcherism, Paul Sirett’s script may look 
simple, but, as with Dury’s lyrics, which are beamed out on 
back-projections like back-issues of Smash Hits, there are hidden 
depths that go beyond soap opera nostalgia. These are heightened in 
Jenny Sealey’s raucous, ribald and unashamedly libidinous production, 
which allows its thirteen cast members including a six-strong band to 
vamp things up like nobody’s business.

If John Kelly and Garry Robson sound like dead ringers for Dury during 
the songs, Nadia Albina makes for a vivaciously sparky love interest 
for Stephen Lloyd’s Vinnie in a show that’s a joy to behold. Watching 
Dury’s paean to hedonism, Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, transformed 
into a twenty-first century dancing in the aisles anthem may be 
unlikely, but as subversive call-to-arms gestures go, the streetwise 
spirit of genuine popular theatre lives on.

The Herald, March 22 2012

ends

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