There’s a real story hidden under all the sound (lots of it) and fury (lots of that, too) which makes up most of Paul Sirett’s Reasons to be Cheerful. It’s a production with input from Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre and the Stratford East Theatre Royal mounted by Graeae Theatre Company. Graeae, if you don’t already know its work, specialises in productions accessible to sight- or hearing-impaired audiences and integrates, most successfully, physically-disabled actors with non-disadvantaged ones.
Wrapped around the afore-mentioned story is the music of Ian Drury, sung and played by a six-piece band which overlaps with the five principal actors. We’re in 1979 and the Tories have just won the election. Pat (Karen Spicer) is at the end of her tether, with Bobby her husband (Garry Robson) dying of cancer and Vinnie their son (Stephen Lloyd) dropped out of the sixth form to work in a supermarket. Pat had her dreams, once, and so did her menfolk. But dreams fragment when rattling with medication and tangled up in a wheelchair
Tickets for a Drury concert are at a premium and the nasty bit of work who’s the boss of Vinnie and his anarchist friend Colin (Stephen Collins) has four. Daniel McGowan is this exploiter and Nadia Albina plays Janine, the girl who finds better things to do and better people to take time out with. Jenny Sealey directs it within a suitably chaotic set by Gaelle Mellis. I’m sure that, if you like this music, you will enjoy it as much as the New Wolsey’s audiences seem to be doing. Personally, I’d have liked more of the story and less of the sound.