book by Ross Clarke & Andrew Keates music and lyrics by Ross Clarke.

Union Theatre 204 Union Street SE1 0LX To 17 October 2015.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7261 9876.
Review: William Russell 18 September.

Good performances, nice tunes but bizarre plot developments.
Emma Briggs and her brother Harry live in a small Suffolk village. The local squire, Adam Davy is sweet on Emma, Harry works on his estate. It is golden summer, the bucolic world seems paradise and the hard-working band – piano,
‘cello and violin – do full justice to Ross Clarke’s melodious score. Although in time one does get a bit fed-up with the instrumental mix.

Then war breaks out, sixteen year old Harry volunteers and goes to the front, followed in due course by Squire Dave but not by the estate gardener Edward Brown, who has a gammy leg, or so it seems.

Harry gets shell shock, come homes, is sent back when apparently cured to the Front and disobeys an order by his commanding officer, Squire, now Captain, Davy would you believe, and is shot.

It is all pretty predictable stuff, but in Act Two things get very bizarre indeed when beans get spilled at Emma’s wedding to the returned Squire Davy. No spoiler alert. Go and find out, but if you believe what happens next you will believe anything.

There is nothing wrong with the score which greater orchestral resources would not cure and the set is a triumph.

The performances by Abigail Matthews as Georgina, who spends the post war years trying to secure a pardon for her brother, David Flynn as the Squire, Lee Dillon-Smith as the bean-spiller and Zac Hamilton as the guy with the fictitious gammy leg are all admirable.

Everyone else works hard. However the plot, as so often with musicals, is the problem. There is certainly some dramatic mileage in the battle to secure pardons for men suffering from stress who were shot as traitors on the battlefield during the First World War, although it is not an unmined topic. But the complications in Act Two beggar belief.

Georgina Briggs: Abigail Matthews.
Adam Davey: David Flynn.
Recruitment Officer/Priest/Des Browne/Mr Willows: Christopher Blades.
Edith: Katie Brennan.
Emma Cardinall: Cameron Leigh.
Peter Arthurs: Leigh Dillon-Smith.
Harry Briggs: Adam Pettigrew.
Hannah Fisher: Kathryn Rutherford.
Edward Brown/Official: Zac Hamilton.

Director: Andrew Keates.
Designer: Tim McQuillen-Wright.
Lighting: Neill Brinkworth.
Sound: James Nicholson.
Orchestrater/Musical Director: Dustin Conrad.
Costume: Natasha Prynne.
Choreographer: Anthony Whiteman.

2015-09-19 15:42:01

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