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