REVIEW: Betty Blue Eyes starring Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith at the Novello Theatre London, 14th July 2011

Despite having a bit of an aversion to musicals based on movies – I booked to see this. According to a unanimous number of reviews, this witty adaptation of the 1984 film A Private Function rises above its original source.

It stars Reece Shearsmith and Sarah Lancashire in the Michael Palin and Maggie Smith roles.

There is, of course, also the pig of the title.

Well, with my half price ticket in hand I went along to see what all the fuss was about. Credit goes to Stiles (music) and Drewe (lyrics) as the songs resist the usual movie transfer fault of being flung in to the story without much sensitivity, these actually reflect the mood of each scene perfectly.

Visually it’s a fabulous re-creation of post-war ration Britain and its small town snobbery. Shearsmith is surprisingly touching as Gilbert, playing the role with real sensitivity. Sarah Lancashire is competent as Joyce but there’s no real sympathy for her character – she just seemed a little detached. However, Adrian Scarborough as the Gestapo – like meat inspector plays his role with total relish. The sets and costumes are really evocative, the music perfectly pitched – so go and see it if you can. The only negative note is the rumour that despite the fantastic reviews and public reception the show is struggling to sell tickets. The worrying thing is that it might not be just a rumour as there were more than a few empty seats throughout the house the day I was there.

Post script (Aug ’11) – regrettably this has now posted closing notices after only 6 months despite fantastic critical reviews and public acclaim – a real pity.

 

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