Since 1972 the Noël Coward compilation Cowardy Custard has had an extended life with many revivals. One of the original co-devisers – Alan Strachan – has now revised it for a smaller cast and incorporated some material which was not originally available. Director Paul Foster’s touring production for Evergreen Theatrical Productions keeps it taut – though never overly brittle – and allows the mood to darken for the opening of the second half.
Of course, all the well-loved show-stoppers are still there; “A room with a view”, “Mad about the boy”, “The stately homes of England”, “Mad dogs and Englishmen”, “matelot”, “I wonder what happened to him” and “Don’t put your daughter on the stage among the highlights. Samal Blak has designed a deceptively simple setting which incorporates a grand piano, a platform suspiciously resembling the lid of one propped up on piles of old 78s and numbe of nightclub-style chairs.
“London Pride” originally referred to the 1940-41 Blitz. Here it appears as a reference to 7/7 and makes just as strong an impact, if not an even greater one. There are only five performers. Dillie Keane rasps her way through her numbers and catches the humour of “I’ve been to a marvellous party” and especially “I wonder what happened to him” with hilarious precision. Savannah Stevenson has a very good voice, twinkle toes (when required) and an infectious sense of fun.
Kit Heskth-Harvey and Richard Sisson (aka Kit and the Widow) are experienced performers of this sort of cabaret-style show and know when a touch of sour bite rather than rich cream is required. Stuart Neal’s dance training, and his personality fit in well with the overall style. The choreography is by Stewart Nicholls and the costuming – basically black and white with flashes of red – has been styled by Fiammetta Horvat.