Britannia's War
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Britannia’s War 1939-1945

Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, Carshalton

The Avalon Theatre Company found this musical on the Internet and it seemed appropriate for Remembrance Weekend, being set in a pub during WW2.

The music and lyrics are by Pete Brown and many of his tunes are catchy and the verses apposite. I liked especially, The Bloody Yanks with its frenetic pace and The Freight Yard Train indicating railway motion.

I know that this type of entertainment suspends reality but when it parallels real events I find coincidences and unlikely happy endings hard to take. Dominic Adams who wrote the book jointly with the composer, earns little credit from me.

Bryan Warner as Jimmy Nelson the Landlord sang and acted convincingly. He volunteered for the Navy and was reported missing, only to turn up for the last ditty. Mo Lawton as his wife was an actress who could express emotion with a song and wring your heart with a look. Her sister (Heather Crosskey) an able performer, was perhaps a little too old for the young lover.

There was a confident performance from Martin Phillips, as Jimmy’s Dad with his constant references to the previous war and the cross talk act with his deaf wife (Judy Abbott), who misunderstood everything, was entertaining.

Clare Gollop had the unrewarding part of the Barmaid but achieved satisfaction in providing a good selection of simple dance movements for her cast as the choreographer. The role of her daughter, given up for adoption but who turns up miraculously but unable to speak, was well mimed by Melissa Waddingham.

Michel De Dadelseon as Chuck, who started off as a nice American and ended as a villain, did his best with a difficult part and I liked Hank (Simon Johnson), who sounded as if he was just off the boat.

The costumes, hair styles and set were of the period and had much to commend them. Director Sue Davids knew how to manoeuvre her large cast and was excellent at arranging changing patterns for them. This new musical was worth doing; pity about the ‘book’.

Peter Steptoe