A Slice of Saturday Night is billed as "The 60s Musical", an evening of nostalgic reflection for the music and mores of the time. In the writing, the music is very cleverly done with each song evoking memories of a number by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles or other iconic groups and/or artists of the decade. Furthermore, as a teenager in the Sixties myself, it did remind me of that painful journey through adolescence. That said, there was little to commend the text with a paper thin storyline and the plot, song lyrics and spoken dialogue full of sexual references without the subtlety or wit to make them truly palatable. One of the songs was on the subject of premature ejaculation, which gives you an idea.
The action takes place on one Saturday evening at the 'Club A Go Go'. The nightclub set was nicely realised in a black and white check pattern with the live five-piece band set upstage centre, the dance floor centre stage and the ladies and gents toilets stage right and left respectively. To avoid criticism where none is intended the representation of the toilets was an effective theatrical device giving both sexes separate performance areas.
Mention should certainly be made of the costumes and wigs used in this production which were excellent. In particular Kirstie Brown (Sharon) in her floral mini-dress and Sarah Lee (Penny) with her bouffant hairstyle were so quintessentially Sixties that your eye was constantly drawn to them.
The male lead is taken by Malcolm Cotton (Eric ‘Rubber Legs’ De Vene), a part previously played by Dennis Waterman no less. The programme tells me that Malcolm has not been on stage for thirty-one years. This disclosure is frankly a mistake as it is just not the sort of intelligence that is going to encourage the audience to sit back relax and enjoy the show. That said, Malcolm does well, he has a pleasing vocal and does his best to give the production impetus. You would never have known that this was his first time on stage for ‘a while’ unless you had been told!
The singing, both solo and group, was of a good and sometimes excellent standard and the singers were ably supported by the five-piece band. The vocals were at their best when Cory Nugent (Rick), Sarah and Kirstie were featured. There was an exterior scene, carelessly bolted on to the main plot, between two hippies Christopher Smith (Terry) and Sarah (now playing Shirl). The clumsy plotting can only be forgiven as it allowed Sarah to render a beautiful vocal performance.
The dance numbers were in the safe hands of Amy Rogers-Gee (also playing Sue) and were well choreographed containing all the signature Sixties moves. In performance they just lacked a little precision and joie de vivre.
If you love the 60s and its music then this production will provide you with an enjoyable evening. I just felt that, music apart, the cast deserved better material to showcase their undoubted talents.
A Slice of Saturday Night runs at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until 7 July 2012