Betty Blue Eyes. Book by Ron Cowne & Daniel Lipman. Music & Lyrics by George Stiles & Anthony Drew. The Union Theatre, 229 Union Street, London SE1 to 22 April 2023. **stars. William Russell.

The best thing about this rough and not quite ready revival of the 2011 musical based on the Alan Bennett movie A Private Function about a pig being saved illicitly to provide the meat for a dinner celebrating the marriage of the late queen in 1947, when rationing was in force, is the pig itself. This Betty is a lovely stuffed toy with splendid sparkling blue eyes, a vast improvement on the awful anamatronic pic in the West End show. Director Sasha Regan has assembled a large cast all of whom perform with zest, choreographer Kaspar Cornish has filled the stage with over athletic routines which seem to consist of a lot of rather dangerous kicking and the waving of strings of sausages more or less in the direction of the audience, and there is a hideous set for them to run about it. The Styles and Drew score and lyrics survive but at times it is a close run thing but there are some splendid tunes celebrating austerity, the magic fingers of the leading character, Gilbert Chilvers (Sam Kipling), who does feet and is bullied by his social climbing wife Joyce (Amelia Atherton). Kipling does a nice line in being downtrodden while Atherton warbles loudly a great deal. Both get upstaged by her mother, a greedy old soul who is not as demented as she pretends to be, played with considerable style by Jayne Ashley, next to Betty the second best thing in the show. The local council have planned a dinner and have the secret pig stashed away on a local farm, but Gilbert finds out and steals it – with predictable results. Meanwhile the man from the ministry, Inspector Wormold (David Pendlebury, the third best thing in the show), prowls around imposing fines on all and sundry. It is energetic, there are laughs to be had, and the score has its charms. As the first in house production at the Union, which has been the home to some fine musical revivals in the past, it deserves a welcome but as a version of the Bennett movie it was in 2011, and is still, an end of the pier show which, at times, one wishes on could push over the end. The band under Aaron Clingham does justice to the score even if some of the singers do not. Betty, however, manipulated by Georgia Boothman, is a delight and a rival to Miss Piggy in the porcine glamour stakes.

Joyce Chilvers: Amelia Atherton.

Gilbert Chilvers: Sam Kipling.

Mother Dear: Jayne Ashley.

Inspector Wormold: David Pendlebury.

Dr Swaby: Stuart Simons.

Henry Allardyce: Josh Perry.

Frances Lockwood: Tom Holt.

Mr Noble/Sutcliffe: George Dawes.

Mrs Lester: Jade Marvin.

Mrs Turnbull: Katie Stasi.

Mrs Allardyce: Laurel Dougall.

Mrs Lockwood: Shannon Farrell.

Vera Bowen: Hannah Lawton.

Mr Metcalf: Kane Stone.

Mr Nuttall: Jonny Weston.

Betty: Georgie Boothman.

Mrs Roacj: emma Jane Fearnley.

Veronica Allardyce: Nellie Regan.Ava Jennings Grant, Coco Bennett.

Director: Sasha Regan

Choreographer: Kasper Cornish.

Musical Director: Aaron Clingham.

Designer: Reuben Speed.

Lighting Designer: Alistair Lindsay.

Production Photographs: Haela Walshe.

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