by Tristram Bernays music by Dougal Irvine..
Southwark Playhouse (The Large) 77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD To 27 June 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 40min (+ 15min pre-show music No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 May.
Fires on every cylinder.
Is it a play? Is it a musical? Well, yes and sort-of. But mainly it’s a super-show. Thanks to the propulsion of Tristram Bernays’ writing, which overcomes its self-conscious rhyming, and music by Dougal Irvine that captures the optimistic energy of fifties rock ‘n’ roll. Thanks too to the verve of Eleanor Rhode’s production, as good as might be expected from someone who has worked in those twin Fringe power-houses, the Finborough and Southwark Playhouse.
And thanks to a three-strong rock band backing the charismatic London heart-throb of the fifties night scene Johnny Valentine (yes, thanks too to Will Payne’s musical personality as Johnny). And thanks – perhaps above all – to the two people whose characters dance and fight the night away.
Penniless, hungry for music and life, fed-up with the old folks at home (never seen and best avoided) Josie and Teddy go through the try-out hostilities of people meant for each other. At least till morning. Possibly through the weekend, even.
First she has to be prised from the meathead who’s attached himself to her, involving Teddy in some formidable fighting and a lot of escaping up and down the scaffolding standing for fire-escapes and the bomb-damaged capital.
Things go from the energetic to the athletic as an insidious voice on the radio reveals a secret Valentine gig late-night, setting the two off, Bonnie and Clyde-like, with his dad’s old service revolver – one more relic of the war – indulging in some wealth redistribution at a late-night pawnbroker’s. He’s a miserable old git, and life’s priority is getting the Valentine tickets.
Ultimate traction for Bernays’ script comes from these two. Jennifer Kirby is Ted from head to foot, dressed in smart authority to challenge any power-dressed eighties female executive. She has spadefuls of London assurance around her youthful enthusiasm.
Joseph Prowen’s Teddy is struck by wide-eyed wonder at her, before displaying a miracle-high shimmy-and-hoof factor way off the scale. As the band play on and Prowen struts his stuff, with Kirby’s capital cool, we have a fine time alongside the Romeo and Juliet of the Elephant and Castle.
Teddy: Joseph Prowen.
Josie: Jennifer Kirby.
Johnny Valentine: Will Payne.
Buster Watson: Harrison White.
Sammy ‘The Sticks’ Smith: Alexander Bean:
Jenny O’Malley: Alice Offley.
Director: Eleanor Rhode.
Designer: Max Dorey.
Lighting: Christopher Nairne.
Sound: Max Pappenheim.
Musical Director: Harrison White.
Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves.
Costume: Holly Rose Henshaw.
Assistant director: Natalie Denton.
Associate designer: Dianne Kelly.
Assistant choreographer: Edwin Ray.