Make Do And Mend

13/07/2007

James Walker went to see Make Do And Mend at the Theatre Royal




Last night I did something which I never thought I would. I went to see a musical. Having grown up with five sisters you can imagine my aversion to entering heavily dominated female environments. I guess what I was fearing was some kind of sing-a-long Hen night. How very reassuringly wrong I was.

Make Do and Mend is set in Nottingham during WWII and tells the story of the Simpson sisters; two young ladies for whom the war offers heartbreak and excitement. Learning to take life as it comes and celebratory of the momentary distractions which such uncertain times bring, they find themselves frequenting Nottingham’s Palais De Danse or the ‘palee’ as it is locally known.

The two main sisters are like opposing book ends. Freddie is a vivacious extrovert in both appearance and attitude who revels in the attention her social life brings. Flo on the other hand is more earnest, a young scholar who prefers manuscripts over men. Forced to leave the house to allow their parents some ‘time together’ the two sisters hit the town and encounter men who will dramatically alter their lives forever.

There were a couple of aspects of this production that I particularly liked. Firstly, most of the cast were selected locally and so that lovely flat Nottingham accent echoes throughout the theatre, giving it a really homespun feel. It is so refreshing to see an ethically driven production rather than one which would cast Howard out of the Halifax advert just because they were a ‘celebrity’. Secondly, Steve Wallis, a playwright from Wollaton, has literally risked everything to finance this production. This unswerving conviction in your own ability is exactly the kind of artistic entreprenuirship which Nottingham needs and it is good to see someone putting their money where their mouth is.

And what a sweet mouth. Due to some excellent characterisation among the twenty four strong cast we are given a wide range of likable personality types which will appeal to all stratifications of the audience. For the elderly and obviously nostalgic viewers there is the highly principled father and his sense of order matched perfectly by the pragmatic mother. For young men there is Lily played by Emma Donnelly a seductress who will have you salivating for months after. But my personal favourite had to be Es, a bookish trainee nurse who falls for an equally geeky Des. Her complete contrast with the over glossed flappers was the exact kind of balance a well scripted musical requires. Her singing voice is befitting of her personality and the deliberate shrieking towards the end of each song had me in stitches, perfectly complimenting the more serious power ballads of a supremely talented cast.

If I was to find fault I would say the identical brothers ending was in danger of being a little bit twee. There are so many stories to draw from the myth kitty of wartime Britain I am sure that death and birth could be addressed in other ways. These issues do not need to be complicated, war does not need sexing up. For most of the audience sat around me, and some I should point out in tears, loss is enough in itself. The strength of this play and the reason it has struck such a chord is it gives those who have lost someone the opportunity to remember. Anything unnecessarily complicated which distracts from this will hinder this simple pleasure.

I hope that Steve takes these comments on board in earnest because I think he has a gem on his hands. And let’s not forget that young eighteen year old Joshua Goodman composed the music. That’s right, eighteen! This I found quite remarkable, particularly given that most producers would have banked on the nostalgia card and given out renditions of Vera Lynn. And let’s not forget that Radio Nottingham’s John Holmes, a lovely man who is like your most comfortable falling apart sofa, makes a guest appearance as barman. These are reasons to visit on their own. So throw your TV Guide onto the fire, disconnect the internet, crush your iPod and get down the Theatre Royal for a good old fashioned sing-a-long while you can. And that includes the men.

Vital Statistics
Book and Lyrics by Steve Wallis.
Score by Joshua Goodman Currently undertaking his A levels.
Fourteen Original songs mixture ballads/up-tempo but period.
Directed by Martin Berry
Musical Director Andrew Nicklin
Choregraphy by Nick Goh

LOCAL LISTINGS INFORMATION:
MAKE DO AND MEND Theatre Royal Nottingham
Tuesday 10th- Saturday 14th July 2007
Performance Times: Eves 7.30pm, Weds and Sat matinee 2.30pm
Ticket Prices: £8- £16.50 with concessions available
Box Office: 0115 989 5555

www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk
www.jameskwalker.co.uk

Share this article



Ads by Google


Comments


comments powered by Disqus

Share Tools

Go to comments Read comments and make your own

Pick of the Week

The best of the next seven days in Notts...

Pick of the Week
more info

Nottingham Playhouse

Nottingham Playhouse
more info

Most read this monthalt

  • Murdered By My Boyfriend
    This new, one-off BBC Three drama is based on the true story of a Nottingham girl who suffered at the hands of domestic abuse
  • LeftLion Magazine #59
    With Rankin, London Grammar, Ronika, World War I, Kogumaza, Sneinton Arts Scene and the eighties miners strikes
  • Nottingham Buskers
    It's been ten years since Xylophone Man's death, so we look at some of the buskers knocking around the city streets today
  • Five Reasons Why Grandmaster Flash Changed The Game
    The man who introduced the medium of hip hop to the mainstream will grace the stage of Nottingham this Sunday at The Approach
  • A Canadian at London 2012
    "I want to lose myself in the joyous atmosphere of the world’s middle class getting together to cheer on its fastest and best at throwing heavy objects"
  • City Ground World Cup All-Stars
    Think Forest are no match for World Cup footballers? Well here's a full squad of players from Brazil 2014 who have played at the City Ground
  • 3D Printing
    Remember when putting colour on paper was revolutionary? Things are a bit more advanced now
  • Pick of the Week: 30 June - 6 July
    From a summer fair and a half on Derby Road and Canning Circus to dancing on trams to EP launches. Don't miss out on the fun
  • Paul Kaye on Sid Vicious
    "What tepid and conservative times we live in by comparison. Kids didn't tweet their idols back then, they gobbed at them"
  • Meadow Lane World Cup All-Stars
    Don't think you see many World Cup footballers at Notts County? Well you might be surprised. Here's a full squad seen at Brazil 2014

LeftLion on Facebook

 

Event Listings alt

There aren't any tickets available for sale. view all events

Related video alt

Ads by Google