Saturday, 29 January 2011


19/1/11, Riverside

The legendary revue which ran for years in the early 1950s and has been periodically revived since, but which I had never seen. It should not work, but does, though I am baffled as to why.

Two young people, newly-graduated from university, marry secretly and take delivery of a magic piano from a man they meet in the park. The piano makes everyone who hears it start dancing. Steps are taken by the authorities to ban it. A satisfactory conclusion is reached when the husband's uncle descends in a flying saucer to sort matters out. Despite drowning in whimsy and an impossibly camp sensibility the thing has an energy and charm which is infectious and even at one point, goddamit, quite affecting. There are some delightful tunes (played by a four-piece at one end of the traverse staging), some fine ensemble work and a lot of rather dodgy early 50s RP accents.

To start with I seriously doubted that coming was a good idea. Things looked up the moment the piano appeared and people started dancing (while singing "I'm Dancing" -- sophisticated this show isn't). It was utterly unexpected, entirely charming and everyone beamed (well, I did anyway).

Some of it is wonderfully dated. We first meet our two graduates at their degree ceremony; in the next scene they're on the station platform waiting for the train back to London. His "people" are on at him to get a job... hers on at her to get married (despite her expensively acquired degree). Much gentle satire comes at the expense of his family's efforts to find him employment with one of his numerous uncles (all of whom we meet at one stage or another) and her mother's efforts to get her a husband by means of a big party.

Bits of it aren't dated, like the post-graduate home from uni and resistant to suggestions that he should get a job.

The company, Tete a Tete, normally do opera and the best thing about this show was that everyone could sing, even if some of them weren't quite so good at dancing. Best of all was Katie Moore in the ingenue role as Jane who was making her professional debut and has, I should say, a glittering future ahead of her. She sings beautifully, she looks good, she can act, she has good timing, she can dance... and she has that indefinable charisma. Simply super!

The Westend Whingers simply loved it:

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