Dreamboats & Petticoats – the enjoyable musical coat hanger of the 60s.

Well after a long absence this theatre goer was whisked back into the darkened auditorium for the sugar candy coated extravaganza that is Dreamboats & Petticoats.  Based on the apparently million selling album (although neither I nor my friend had heard of it at all – I’d be very interested if anyone has?) this is simply a collection of 1960s classics with a very meagre story of teen love and a bit of rock and roll thrown in to tie it all together. 


All the greats are here from the strangely addictive Let’s Twist Again to the pulsating rhythms of Shakin’ All Over and the dulcet longings of To Know Him Is To Love Him.  All in all there are a dizzying 43 musical numbers in a piece which could only be described as the musical equivalent of a coat hanger; let those 60s tunes hang off there boys, and heaven forbid we should have any actual substance.


The tunes are jolly enough, as are the twirling petticoats and hunky dreamboats but after seeing Adam Curtis and Felix Barrett’s darker side of this sixties dream I felt it all a bit difficult to take – a cute nostalgic look at a time before globalization and commercialism were gods, whored about (ok maybe that’s a bit much, performed then) in the temple of one such commercial god? All a bit fishy really.  


But I can’t moan about this fully because to gar my grew it was actually enjoyable (well until they got mopey at the end and started banging on about love where my ‘grew’ definitely prevailed).  Like Thriller, it is hard not to be blasted away by the unstoppable force of pop music when it’s as good as these songs inevitably are.  The performances are also much better than expected with Daisy Wood-Davis’s caramel voice bringing just the right sweetness to innocent Laura and Ben Freeman well and truly shaking off his Emmerdale past in a bone hip breaking performance as the cocky Norman that would make a young Elvis proud.  Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (with their eons of experience in such nostalgic BBC comedy gold) have produced a book which, although at times incredibly cheesy, is funny and sharp and actually makes you want more talking and less singing which can be no bad thing.


I anticipate that this is going to do very, very well.  Even this cynic couldn’t stop smiling at points, the effervescent energy of pure pop shining through – oh and I saw Cilla Black, so it can’t all be bad can it? 




Review: It Felt Like A Kiss

I’ve wanted to see Punchdrunk for the last year and a half and they’ve always somehow alluded me, until now – given a golden ticket by the lovely John Roberts I eagerly entered into a world of strange and surreal possibility and was terrified out of my wits.  Here’s my review for The Public Reviews – but with twitter like brevity – go go go if you can!

‘He Hit Me and It Felt Like A Kiss’, the haunting song by The Crystals based on singer Little Eva’s violent boyfriend is the languidly pulsating heart at the centre of Adam Curtis and Felix Barrett’s darkly hypnotising and mind freezingly terrifying ‘It Felt Like A Kiss’.  Driven by a desire to give an audience a linear experience of Curtis’ experimental BBC political film about the rise of America, Barrett has hijacked an old office block in the centre of Manchester, turning rooms from blank work spaces into perfectly preserved 1950’s/60’s bedrooms, gardens, hospital bedrooms and nightmares.

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Review: The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Director: Irina Brown
Reviewer: Honour Bayes

“We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces” Lady Bracknell admits in Oscar Wilde’s delightfully nonsensical The Importance of Being Earnest, and so it would seem to be in Irina Brown’s rather outward facing production at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park. Set against Kevin Knight’s incredibly stark background of white minimalist lines and huge mirrors which sparkle as coldly as Wilde’s dialogue, this is a production which seems rather stretched at times, with the actors often reaching to be heard and posturing a little too overtly in sometimes uncomfortably blocked passages of action. It is still terribly funny though, peppered as it is with recognisable witticisms from arguably England’s most diverting writer and as comedic arrow after arrow zings out from the stage, it cannot be denied that it is a very enjoyable evening.

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