Lionel Bart’s highly tuneful score has been well refreshed by Elliot Davis and augmented with additional Bart numbers (the most notable, and notorious, of which is Living Doll) so it is frequently a joy to listen to. And Nathan M Wright’s choreography has a delicious energy which the company deliver well. But as dated stereotype follows thoroughly outmoded attitude, it becomes increasingly hard to feel nostalgic for such a time. Terry Johnson’s production asks us to swallow levels of camp and female submissiveness that frankly have no place in our culture.
When the pendulum finally, briefly, swings the other way, it is too little too late really, the damage already done in pandering to a state of affairs that ought to have been much more fully indicted. The show is well performed though – Mark Arden’s (anti-) hero is good as the gangland hoodlum wanting to reclaim former glories, Jessie Wallace ideally cast as his strident lover Lil, Christopher Ryan’s fading burglar an amusing sidebar, there is certainly enjoyment to be had here. But as for whether it is a period piece ripe for revival or a relic of the past that should be left to collect dust, that’s for you to decide.
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 8th June