ANDY CAPP – THE MUSICAL, London, To 23 02

Book by Trevor Peacock
Music by Alan Price
Based on the comic strip by Reg Smythe.

Finborough Theatre, to 23 Feb
118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED to23 February.
Sun & Mon 7.30 Mat Tues 3pm & 15 & 22 Feb.
Runs 2 hr One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
Review: William Russell 7 February.

Going with the Flo; but what about its sell-by date?
Pretty well every reviewer describes the revival of this only mildly successful 1982 musical about the Daily Mirror cartoon character as charming. When it opened it was also seen as a charming, whimsical picture of northern working class life. But times have changed.

Director Jake Smith has laid on the charm with a trowel, notably in his casting of Roger Alborough as Andy, the unemployed, unemployable North Country wife abusing slob whose only love is his pigeons. It is one way of avoiding the reality of what we are asked to laugh along with and whose cute working class vagaries – like loving one’s racing pigeons more than one’s wife and not knowing how toast is made – we are asked to admire

In the cartoon Andy is a large cap on a small body. A brilliant concept as it dehumanises him. He is simply a totemic figure. Roger Alborough, a small cap on a big body, ambles through the dated and undeniably squeamish making sexism of the plot with a warm smile and a slightly detached manner. Nothing to do with me is what he appears to be saying.

The songs by by Price and Peacock are jolly, although the plot could be written on the back of half a postage stamp. But what was acceptable as a portrait of the feckless working man when Andy first surfaced in the Mirror in the 1958 is not so today.

In 1982 when the musical opened for a modest run his behaviour was still accepted as material for humour and over the years he has managed to become some sort of national treasure. There are nice performances from Tom Pepper as Andy’s protégé Elvis Horsepole, a dim young slob well on his way to becoming just like his friend, and Lynn Robertson-Hay as Flo, Andy’s put upon wife. David Muscat as Geordie, a more or less unnecessary narrator, there because the part was played by Price originally, wanders in and out adding to the general feeling of public bar bonhomie. Everyone else overacts like crazy. It is just a musical, but if we fret about Shylock as an unacceptable character for today – or indeed Mrs Brown of Boys fame, Benny Hill’s sexism or the Black and White Minstrels – then same applies to Andy Capp. He is a product of his time and his time is past. The Fin borough has resurrected some old musicals and revealed there is lots of life still in many of them , but others should have remained in their coffins. This is one such.

Geordie: David Muscat.
Vicar/Percy: Jon-Paul Row den.
Linda/Raquel Scrimmett: Tory Hargreaves.
Jack/Ron/Man: Henry Warley-Birch.
Andy Capp: Roger Marlborough.
Olga: Margaret Ashley.
Chalkier: Todd James.
Pauline: Felicity Sparks.
Elvis Horse pole: Tom Pepper.
Ruby: Jennifer Clement.
Florence Capp: Lynn Robertson-Hay.
Mrs Scramjet: Paddy Nain.
Mr Scramjet: Terence Frisch.

Director: Jake Smith.
Musical Director: Tim Shaw.
Set & Costumes: Bex Kemp.
Choreography: Chris Cuming.
Lighting Design: Alex Hopkins.

2016-02-15 10:48:08

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