whistle down the wind

8 Dec

WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND *** 

AT THE UNION THEATRE 

Adapted by Russell Labey and Richard Taylor  

From the Screenplay by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse 

Aaah!  This is quite definitely an Aaah! show.  It is not the one penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which I saw in 1996 -and felt did not do credit to the Mary Hayley Bell’s Book or the very popular film by Richard Attenborough and Brian Forbes. This show follows the story well, using children from the Union Youth Theatre to swell the numbers on stage. 

I’m sure everybody knows what it is about. A man who has murdered his wife and has been injured finds refuge in a barn where he is discovered by Cathy who is impressed by his appearance and believes he is Jesus. She and her siblings Charles (George Hankers) and Nan (Tara Lucas) believe he is the son of God and take care of him, bringing him food, toothpaste and buckets of water etc.  

Of course, the townsfolk are in a terrible state because there is a murderer at large and nobody can find him.  The search led by the policeman, the vicar and the children’s Dad and aunt Dolly including the policeman and the vicar who know that somewhere he is hiding but all the village children who find out about him believe that he is Jesus and are bound to secrecy. The local bully Raymond is determined to find out what is going on and beats them up, but they still keep the secret. 

The Man (Jesus) is played by Juan Miralles, who spends much of the play in the barn being tended by Cathy, but who comes into his own at the end, when he meets the crowds of children and realises that he is adding to his crimes by accepting the false identity attributed to him by them. Here he is given a dramatic song and we are able to appreciate his versatile vocal quality. Sadie Levett is enchanting and heart breaking as Cathy and her love for her Jesus is most appealing.  

There is a lot of good work by the townspeople led by the vicar (Eoin McKenna). They are a very individual group of characters who do some pretty decent choral singing of the songs by Richard Taylor, which are tuneful though not terribly memorable, but his lyrics fit the story really well.  

There are some sweet pieces in the show. The nativity play performed by the school children is as hilarious as these things always are.   The children appear to enjoy the experience as they belt out their tunes with great vivacity. 

Production values are good. Justin Williams has imagined an atmospheric set, with the straw of the Barn at one end and a household scene at the other when Dad, Aunt Dolly and the three children argue amongst themselves and tell their secrets at the breakfast/dinner table.   

 Sasha Regans production of this musical was at the Union Theatre in 2015 and starred Harry Wright who, sadly died recently of a brain tumour at the early age of twenty-nine. This production is dedicated to his memory and a collection is taken at every performance during the run for the Brain Tumour Charity. 

aline at AWtheatricals

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