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Avalon Theatre Company

Rating ***

STUDIO Theatres are not perhaps the best of venues for large-cast musicals where the front row is within inches of the performers, as any problems with production or costumes tend to be magnified.

That said, the Avalon Theatre Company made a valiant attempt at Lionel Bart's musical picture of war-torn London.

The story emphasised that quarrels are petty between individuals but there was togetherness when the going got tough. The sound effects with sirens and explosions caused the usual sinking feeling in my stomach and the children with small cases assembling for evacuation produced a lump in my throat. The crowded stage, with much flowing movement, was a great credit to director Sue Davids.

Alfred Locke was played by Laurence Irvine who had the rare ability not to appear to be acting. His friend Ernie Nearmiss (Denis Steer) looked and sounded remarkably like Butcher Jones from Dad's Army.

Alf's son (Keiran Laurie) was a handsome lad who was in love with neat and nimble-footed Rebecca Rumbles who played Carol, the daughter of the star of the show, Mrs Blitzstein. Clare Gollop played her with an effective Jewish east-end accent and though strident, when feuding with Alfred Locke could produce memorable moments of quiet drama.

There was tragedy when daughter Carol was blinded but we all went home happy when she miraculously recovered her sight in the final scene.

Peter Steptoe