To Be Cheerful
Sirett's new musical sets a sweet little story to the headbanging songs
of Ian Dury and the result, if more than a bit rough around the edges,
has sufficient high energy and good spirits to carry it through a fun
Graeae, the theatre company by and for the disabled, the script quietly
incorporates the fact that one character is deaf, one is in a chair,
and so on, and just gets on with it.
are projected in surtitles (which poses a small dilemma for the hearing
in the audience, who have to fight the impulse to read along and see
the jokes before they're actually spoken), and one of the characters
unobtrusively signs as well as speaks.
simple story is
of a couple of East End Dury fans eager to get to a sold-out live gig
in 1979. Their misadventures along the way allow a shy guy to get the
girl and also to bond with his dying father.
couple of the
songs - Billericay Dicky and Sweet Gene Vincent - are integrated into
the plot, but most are mechanically inserted (as when they anticipate
hearing Dury open his act with Wake Up And Make Love With Me) or
self-contained and self-justifying party-mood pieces (like the title
song and the inevitable Hit Me and Sex And Drugs And Rock &
Lloyd is an
attractive shy guy, Stephen Collins amusing as his mate, while Garry
Robson ably carries much of the dramatic weight as the father. While
the actors do some singing, most of the numbers are led by a separate
singer, the intense and growling John Kelly.
be honest, the
production is ragged, the performances uneven, the musical numbers more
energetic than polished. Though a choreographer is credited, dancing
consists largely of individuals bouncing around randomly, frequently
crashing into each other as they might in a moshpit, and the surtitles
are particularly appreciated during the songs, which are frequently
louder than they are intelligible (and Dury's lyrics, cleverer than
most, as in the catalogue songs Reasons To Be Cheerful and England's
Glory, deserve to be heard).
all this is
somehow in the Dury spirit, and if you give yourself over to it, the
vaguely amateur do-it-yourself feel of the show eventually becomes part
of its charm.
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- Reasons To Be Cheerful - Stratford East 2010