A Slice of Saturday Night on National Tour
An old friend of mine used to thrill me with tales of hanging out and being cool down the 2I's coffee bar in the Sixties, and so graphic were his anecdotes that it was like being there with him. So it was with somebody else's glorious memories in mind that I took my seat for the fresh production of A Slice of Saturday Night, looking forward to getting lost in the Eoin McManus-directed roller coaster ride of teenage angst in the days prior to the advent of flower power and flares.
In most respects, the show delivers the goods and it paints a funny portrait of life down the Club A Go Go on a Saturday night. In fact such Saturday night activity is timeless, and while it may not be PC to think of birds and blokes out on the pull, not much has changed in thirty odd years. So what really pins the action in the era of choice are the two aspects of life that mattered most at the time: music and fashion.
Thirty 60s pastiche, jingle jangle guitar songs, courtesy of the Colin Billing-led beat combo, together with the fine singing voices of the cast, drive the narrative along while Charles Cusick's cuban heel, hipster and mini skirt costumes ensure the look is right. Eoin McManus' slightly pop-art set certainly evokes the right atmosphere although it has to be said that the space for the band appears rather cramped - one improvised solo too far could see guitarist Andrew Waterson decapitating his fellow players.
Barabara Dickson stars as club owner Erica (the original character was a male, Eric, but the rewrite intends to provide a matriarchal role model - it doesn't work, sorry). Dickson's talents, despite two songs especially written for her by show originators the Heather Brothers, are eclipsed by the younger cast members, who are afforded greater stage time. Romantic twosome Simon Fielding (Rick) and Dana Gartland (Sharon) leave a great impression. Charles Dale, as door man Alf, has a rather peculiar Chas 'n' Dave cockney barrow boy singing style (much to my Northern chagrin, the cast all have dreadful Tiffany from Eastenders accents) which you'll either love or loath.
The show's crudest moments (and they are the best bits) still remain in songs like 'Romance/Wham Bam' and 'PE' (Premature Ejaculation) and advice on how to conceal an unwanted erection whilst on the dancefloor.
Fun without achieving greatness, although the Heather Brothers do manage to steal every great hook from every classic track of the decade. With so many of these kind of shows about at the moment there is, however, a sense that the parody, like the memory, is wearing thin.