There’s something special about the music of wartime that gives it sticking power. From the earlier days of colonial battles where songs were designed to keep up the collective spirits of both those overseas and at home, through to more recent times when music has been used to voice opposition to the fighting and a desire for peace, the tunes that come out of war help to capture and document this part of our history.
Flamboyant and charismatic, with appropriate yet ridiculous costumes, wigs and incredibly white teeth, Bob Downe (Mark Trevorrow) is the perfect character to take the audience through an exploration of this genre. Joined on stage by Jane Markey in the various female roles and accompanied by John Thorn and Jeremy Hopkins on piano and drums respectively (Thorn also taking on the role of musical director), Trevorrow manages to keep the energy up throughout as he winds his way through over 150 years worth of music.
Markey manages to hit the mark with her range of over-the-top characters, building up to the hilarious Ida Downe (Bob’s mother), who could easily have been plucked from the local CWA. Thorn and Hopkins are equally good support, showing off their own comic talents. Despite the good fun, this show is about war and this is not forgotten with several serious segments included. Hopkins, looking like a young lad about to head to the front, provides an especially moving rendition of love song, Lili Marlene.
This show is particularly interesting for its multi-generational appeal – while a good proportion of songs are sourced from the days of the two world wars and may therefore appeal most to the blue-rinse crowd, the character of Downe is perhaps better known to a slightly younger cohort. Despite the opening night crowd being somewhat lacking in numbers, they never-the-less joined in the sing-along portions of the evening with enthusiasm, the songs having penetrated the collective psyche so well that the projected lyrics were often unneeded.
Whether as a source of reminiscence, an enjoyable way to learn about history or simply as something a bit different to do, this is a top show and a fun evening out.
Kryztoff Rating: 4K
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