Music & lyrics by Madness.
Book by Tim Firth.
The Union Theatre
204 Union Street, London SE1 0LX to 12 September 2015.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 15 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7261 9876
www.ticketsource.co.uk/uniontheatre (fees apply).
Review: William Russell 21 August.
Dancing up a storm
The choreography by William Whelton and some splendid dancing by the ensemble are the highlights of this revival of the 2002 Olivier best musical award winner.
Michael Burgen’s direction is perfectly efficient, but as always the book is the problem. The story Tim Firth has devised about Joe Casey, a lad from NW1 who – father having abandoned the family – either grows up and goes to the bad, or goes to the good gets terribly muddled as the evening goes on. It requires more resources than the Union can provide.
It is also slightly dated. This is a London of the day before yesterday rather than today. The songs by Madness have stood the test of time, however, and the production numbers are some of the best to grace the Union stage, if one can call it that – acting space is nearer the truth.
Steven France sings well as Joe, but the character, even when good, is deeply unsympathetic – he has a terrible temper – and France’s own stage personality is rather cold so that one never warms to Joe and his predicaments whether good or bad.
As the girl he loves and loses or gets, depending on whether he being good or bad, Ailsa Davidson sings well and is far more sympathetic, especially as at times it is hard to see what she sees in Joe.
Everyone sings without mikes, and all the words are audible, which is not a mean feat these days. Go for the songs, the first rate band under Richard Baker and those exhausting, spectacularly jerky dance routines devised by Mr Whelton and forget the plot and a good time should be had by all.
Joe Casey: Steven France.
Sarah: Ailsa Davidson.
Joe’s Dad. Dominic Brewer.
Kath Casey: Sally Samad.
Emmo: Joseph Giacone.
Lewis: Joe Ashman.
Billie: Claire Learie.
Angie: Chanice Alexander-Burnett.
Mr Pressman: Rhys Owen.
Reecey: Jay Osborne.
Dance Captain: Joanna Bird.
Ensemble: Alice Baker, Rachel Capp, Lauren Dinse, Reece Kerridge, Paul Flannigan, Zachary Worrall.
Director: Michael Burgen.
Choreographer: William Whelton.
Musical Director: Richard Baker,
Designer: Eleanor Wdowski.
Lighting Designer: Tim Deiling.
Costume Designer: Jess Richardson-Smith.