Radio Times is a musical woven around the songs of Noel Gay – best known as the composer of Me and My Girl. The setting is a BBC radio variety programme during the Second World War, preparing for its first broadcast to America amid the habitual trials of air raid sirens, red tape and censorship, missing performers – and a little romantic tension among the company members. Generously peppered with Gay’s music, broad humour, and cups of tea, the result is a bright and cheerful piece about love, British wartime spirit, and the show going on whatever happens.
There are some solid performances from the big names: Gary Wilmott bounds around the stage as chirpy cheeky charmer Sammy Shaw, effortlessly delivering a seemingly endless string of gags that will make you chuckle even if you can occasionally see them coming a mile off, and he is well matched by Sara Crowe as his somewhat put-upon other half Olive. But for me it was the supporting cast who really shone – Vivien Carter sparkles as ‘your radio girlfriend’ Amy Chapman, John Conroy is a delight as the buttoned-up producer Mr Bultitude, and Christian Edwards does sterling work as lovelorn sound-and-special-effects guy Jeeps. They are backed by an all-singing, all-dancing, all-instrument-playing ensemble who rarely put a foot wrong. The musical performances are strong, and if you’re a fan of energetic yet elegant dance routines, forties glamour, and the odd surprise ukulele moment, this is a show for you.
It’s not a flawless piece: the company’s comic timing seems to take a little while to get warmed up, the acting is a touch hammy from time to time, and the sound balance isn’t always perfect, meaning the performers sometimes get drowned out by their own instruments. But with a show as fun and lively as this one, it’s easy not to mind. It’ll get your feet tapping to the music – and it’ll put a smile on your face.