Reasons to be Cheerful

Belgrade Theatre


Billed as a ‘raucous musical’; it’s no word of a lie. This, the best of Ian Dury (who, if you don’t know, had polio as a child and was permanently disabled) and The Blockheads, suits Graeae Theatre down to the ground as it showcases talents for able and disabled actors.

Written by Paul Sirett and directed by Jenny Sealey it’s feisty, enjoyable, joyous and relevant to where we are politically now.

It’s 1979 and Margaret Thatcher is newly enthroned and we are in the back room of the The Red Lion for a concert relayed randomly by telephone to a chap in Great Yarmouth. Clearly, if sex was discovered in the 60s, swearing followed in the 70s – there’s plenty of it. So…what’s it all about?

A small JAM family in Southend-on-sea where Dad Bill/Bobby (Gerard McDermott) obsessed with Gene Vincent is pretty poorly with cancer, Mum Pat (Karen Spicer) has given up her job at Fine Fare to care for him and son and main character Vinnie (Stephen Lloyd) has dropped out of school and taken her Fine Fare job to bring home the bacon.

His friend Colin (Stephen Collins) works at Fine Fare where they bait manager Dave (Max Runham) tirelessly. They are both obsessed by Ian Dury and steal tickets from Dave’s girlfriend Janine (Beth Hinton-Lever) to go to London. Vinne rounds up Dad and steals mum’s orange Avenger but they crash the car and never get there – but go to the seaside instead where a parallel story develops.

Suffice it to say, there are some excellent numbers with John Kelly as the lead vocalist with the excellent live band just brilliant.

My favourite was England’s Glory but there were six or seven close runners-up. I loved the busy stage including a live band; excellent musicians and quite happy to don a pink wig and join in the show. I loved the energy, the dancing, just the joy of the show.

In particular, the film background and provision of the entire script on the back screen was a great help. A signer Debbie (Jude Mahon) as part of the cast enabled the whole audience to follow the story. In short it provided plenty of reasons to be cheerful. If I have a criticism, my ears hurt by the end; it was SO loud. To 09-09-17

Jane Howard


Reasons to be cheerful opens at Derby Theatre 12-16 September, 2017 

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