Essential Review

This review has been conducted by a member of the Essential Suffolk team


New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until Sat April 19

Book by Ron Cowen & Daniel Lipman
Music and Lyrics by George Stiles & Anthony Drewe
Based on the Handmade film 'A Private Function'
Adapted from the screenplay by Alan Bennett

Reviewer: Lesley Rawlinson


Oh Betty!

Oh Betty! Post war small town politics, sandwiched with more porky puns than you could cram into a hand-raised pie, combine to make this curly tale of the plight of one small pig, in a world when rashers were well and truly rationed (I warned you),  a hilarious treat.

It’s 1947 and head-strong Joyce Chilvers (Amy Booth-Steel) and her chiropodist husband Gilbert (Hadyn Oakley) are new in town. Their dreams of opening a proper surgery are on the verge of coming true when plans are turned upside down by a chance encounter, Joyce’s dotty live in mother (Sally Mates), the forthcoming Royal Wedding and a meat inspector who’s determined to paint the town green.

In this muti-talented cast we see most of the remaining players double in a variety of roles as they bring to life the fellow towns-folk and traders but regardless each character is clearly defined, meticulously thought out and convincingly portrayed.

Stunning vocals, slick choreography and split second synchronicity have this musical zipping along at a rate of knots. The close harmonies of ‘Magic Fingers’ were particularly enchanting while ‘Pig, No Pig’ had the audience in stitches. I particularly enjoyed ‘Nobody’ – where Joyce is transported from here rather dowdy parlour into a dreamlike cabaret world complete with cleverly disguised quick change to full sequins and then back again.

Close attention has clearly been paid to the war-time wardrobe. Details like a flash of silk undies during the jitter-bug and some gravity defying hair rolls kept us firmly fixed on the forties. I’m always amazed when a touring show looks completely at home in a theatre but I’d have believed that this set was made for the Wolsey.

Betty Blue Eyes is a laugh-out-loud evening of entertainment with a pig thrown in and a cast that go the ‘whole hog’ to make it a show you’ll want to see again!


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