PETE ‘N’ KEELY
Book by James Hindman Original music by Patrick Brady. Original Lyrics by Mark Waldrop & Patrick S Brady.
3 Stars ***
Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower Street, London WC2H 9NP to 20 May 2017.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 40 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 3841 0617
Review: William Russell 4 May.
Sparkles but mainly because of the cast
This is one of those off Broadway shows which probably seemed funnier and more to the point there. It is about a seventies television singing duo, lovebirds on screen but in private are anything, reunited after a five year break for an anniversary special. The trouble is we never had television shows like this, so the joke doesn’t really work. But the show does provide the protagonists – it is a two hander with some new songs, some old – with chances to shine and David Bardlsey and Katie Kerr rise to the occasion with aplomb. They are terrific and while much of the first half limps pointlessly along setting the scene, things end with a brilliantly performed very funny battle of songs. They have embarked on a nation wide tour of the USA and fight over sung collage of all those songs with place names in the American popular songbook. The result is one leaves well disposed to what comes next, and as Act two opens with their sole foray onto Broadway in a musical clearly composed by Sondheim on an off day called Antony and Cleopatra, things continue to improve and one gets to like the performers more. Without them, however, it is not really up to much and not as clever as it thinks it is being. Even the McGuffin, warring apparent sweethearts, is nothing new.
Katie Kerr, a buxom lass, has a fine voice and loads of style, while David Bardlsey, a small man in a fright wig with a lived in face, matches her vocally. They both have funny bones. As a means of showing just what they can do the show is a perfect vehicle. There is a very good three piece band under James Cleeve to back them, good sound, which is rare, and a nice set – add two engaging and skilful performers and could one, should one, ask for anything more? Actually the answer is yes – a decent book for a start – but the players could not be improved upon.
Pete: David Bardlsey.
Keely: Katie Kerr.
Director: Matthew Gould.
Musical Director: James Cleeve.
Designer: Emily Bestow.
Lighting Designer: Mitchell Reeve.
Sound Designer: Sam Glossop.
(William Russell) @Pursuivant