BLITZ

11 Feb

Lionel Bart’s Blitz is the latest in Phil Wilmott’s Essential Classics season at the Union Theatre.
It celebrates the 75 years since VE Day and it begins in the Underground station at Petticoat Lane during an air raid.

It is good to remind people of the war at this moment. Many young people don’t seem to believe it ever existed. We have to tell people of the devastation war can bring.
Jessica Martin leads the way and is magnificent as the middle aged battleaxe fighting a constant war against a protestant neighbour. She rules the roost most of the time but suffers from the bombing and also the behaviour of her son Harry and her beautiful daughter Carol. Martin’s most impressive moment is hersolo number when in desperation, she calls upon her dead husband, Jack for help . This is a number that shows off the variety and heartbreaking quality of her voice.
There are some terric numbers and highspots In this production. “Down the Lane” a great song about Petticoat Lane “First you lose your watch and chain, Then you buy it back again,” Typical Bart sly humour.
The show stopper “Who’s this Geezer ‘itler?” The essence of British defiance had to have an encore as some of us wanted to sing along. Memories of “Dad’s army” and “Who do you think you’re kidding Mr Hitler”
It was good to see Corinna Marlowe as the Grandma Esther a valuable edition to the mainly youthful cast. Michael Martin gets a lot if fun out of Mr Locke the warring neighbour. Unfortunate for the feuding couple that their children were so much involved with each other!.
The two villains who are responsible for Harry’s undoing are like a couple of panto “brokers men” and reminiscent of the rascals in “Kiss me Kate”
The girls are all superb dancers and showed off Daniel Maguire’s excellent choreography in “Leave it to the Ladies”
As usual at the Union there were lots of young people in the company but so many that I dare not mention names unless I get them wrong. But all are talented and add energy to the production.
Reuben Speed has designed a kind of miracle set that moves around seamlessly from one venue to another. As in Underground platform to Petticoat Lane Market. The ensemble company help out with moving the furniture.
Rosa Lennox, the musical director with her four piece band keeps the sound of the music well under control, and they work sympathetically with the actors.
I was sorry to see Jessica Martin in the same brown coat through out the whole evening. She even wore it for the wedding scene. It must have been hot and heavy to work in. As the characters were all working in Petticoat Lane there would surely be a change of gear on offer. (Just saying)

Found much if it very moving – lots of real tears between the laughs. It was a dangerous, sometimes funny, but horrible time. Don’t let it happen again.

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