In this 60s set bouncy musical from the Heather Brothers, just past its 30th anniversary, a number of songs of the period are reworked (House of the Rising Sun is hinted at in The Long Walk Back, for instance).
Icons are mentioned: Twiggy, Jagger, Macca. And at the Club-a-Go-Go, run by Eric “Rubber Legs” Devine, ten teenagers play out the same routine every Saturday night. It’s a bit un-PC to modern eyes, with “Banging Bertha” and “Frigid Bridget”, but also accurately reflects concerns of those navigating their feelings.
In a simple set helped by pictures to place us in the club, the loos, or outside, the Pump House Theatte have brought the sweet coming-of-age musical to the Watford Fringe. Filmed in a simple style with a small live audience, there was the occasional sound issue but nothing too disastrous.
Some songs are missed: in Cliff’s 80th birthday year I wanted to hear Eric sing the praises of him “and his four lads/Cliff Richard and the Shads”, but sadly it was not to be. The rhymes left in the piece though were strongly enunciated, if a little flat at times. The charms of “what do I do now/what should my next step be/how should I react/what should my strategy be” still come through.
There was no cast credited on either the booking form or the video link, but it appears to be a youth production, given the age of those on stage, with a small band at the side. The tale of Gary and Sue, Eddie and Bridget, Rick and Sharon, Terry, Penny and Shirl, and Bertha rings true even though it is set nearly six decades ago.
I enjoyed the group numbers, notably one of my favourites Please Don’t Tell Me, and the choreography, and the characters of Rick and Gary were well acted. However Eric didn’t come across as the all-knowing spiv he should be, and the boys are perhaps a bit more blokey than I’d expect.
Ultimately this was enjoyable, and I can’t complain at the £5 asking price, but I’ll point you in the direction of the cast recording with Binky Baker and David Easter as a more definitive introduction.
A Slice of Saturday Night streamed live from the Watford Fringe on 18 October.