book and lyrics by Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds music by Julian Slade.
Riverside Studios (Studio 2) Crisp Road Hammersmith W6 9RL To 6 February 2011.
7.30pm 27-30 Dec, 3 Jan then Tue-Sat no performance 4 Jan.
Mat Thu, Sat, Sun & 28 Dec, 3 Jan. 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8237 1111.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 December.
Passes summa cumlaude.
Backed – or sided – by a small band, the university Dons line-up on the lawn into which designer Tim Meacock has turned the largest of Riverside’s performance spaces, its greenery expansive between two banks of audience seating. Here the graduates of 1954 line-up to receive their degrees amid celebratory song. Life’s never going to be so easy, or so ordered, again, and by the second number, graduates Jane and Timothy (Katie Moore and Sam Harrison, both splendid) are parting at opposite corners, with or without a final look back.
Of course they meet again, though without the academic bond, pressures emerge; like Tim’s family, a comic combo seated apparently al fresco dead centre of the greenery. And when the space becomes a public park, the public, in Bill Bankes-Jones’ revival of his successful 2009 revival for Tete-a-Tete, seem quite a curious lot. Life here has none of the order and purpose of varsity days.
Of course, this remains life on the light side. From its title – “My salad days, When I was green in judgment,” reflected Shakespeare’s Cleopatra of her youthful love – the musical is on the side of enjoyment and optimism. So, a flying saucer’s easily incorporated on the scene (a lot of sightings were claimed around that time), and the only doubt comes in the all-too-respectable Cleopatra-themed nightclub scene, which is neither seedy nor sexy.
But how gloriously the daytimes pass here, with songs that are never less than pleasant and when composer Julian Slade really hits his stride, a melodic delight. And they’re beautifully sung, with the qualities of unamplified melodic precision and phrasing that are too easily slurred over in the age of sound engineers, close-miking and nasal intonation.
Then there’s the magic piano, that sets people dancing. No-one pretends it’s other than on a level with flying saucers, but it fits well-enough into the non-cynical tone of this delightful period piece. Perhaps Tete-a-tete could be persuaded to dig back another seven years and try their hand at another tuneful show from the post-war era, Vivien Ellis and A P Herbert’s Bless the Bride.
Don/PC Boot/Electrode/Gardener: Andrew Ahern.
Troppo/Chancellor/Slave: Lee Boggess.
Don/Lady Raeburn/Artist/Theatregoer/Lady/Marguerite: Rebecca Caine.
Don/Aunt Prue/Manicurist/Rowena/Charmian/Lady: Charlie Cameron.
Timothy: Sam Harrison.
Don/Tramp/Bishop/Cossack/American/Tom Smith/Pressman: Matthew Hawksworth.
Don/Sir Clamsby Williams/Theatregoer/Manager/Pressman/Uncle Zrd: Mark Inscoe.
Don/Tim’s Mother/Heliose/Nanny/Asphynxia/Lady/Anthea: Kathryn Martin.
Jane: Katie Moore.
Don/Fosdyke/Nigel/Gardener: Spencer O’Brien.
Don/Beautician’s Assistant/Tennis Player/Shop Girl/Fiona: Ellie Robertson.
Don/Tim’s Father/Butterfly Catcher/Inspector/Augustine Williams/Ambrose: Tony Timberlake.
Ensemble: Luke Baker, Emma Harris, Richard Kent, Tanya Stephens.
Director: Bill Bankes-Jones.
Designer: Tim Meacock.
Lighting: Mark Doubleday.
Music Director: Anthony Ingle.
Choreographer: Quinny Sacks.
Costume: Caroline Hughes.
Wigs/Make-up: Gigi Hammond.
Dialect coach: Neil Swain.
Assistant director: Oliver Platt.
Assistant choreographer: Lee Boggess.