10 May 2004 WOS Rating: Playwright, songwriter and best selling author, Willy Russell and Olivier award winning writer, Tim Firth share the stage in a series of shows that blend the spoken word from their films and plays with songs from their new albums. You get the rare chance to hear music and anecdotes from these two humorous writers and composers. The small but ‘perfectly formed’ audience seem keen to revisit songs from but the joy of this highly entertaining evening is that this is much more than a rehash of old material. Blood Brothers
Russell and Firth share the stage with an excellent band as they visit their new albums, "Hoovering The Moon" and "Harmless Flirting". The new material veers from the folk sound of "Shoe Shine" to the melodic toe-tapping anthem "My Little Sister." The hooks are immediate and mixed with moving and funny lyrics which remind you why Russell's
and Firth's Blood Brothers Our House fill theatres. There is something unconventional about these two and this comes across in their songs. Themes of old age, lost loves and tupperware have a lovely sense of irony and self deprecating wit but most of all give the audience a slice of reality to chuckle at in recognition and clap along to.
Die-hard fans of the talented two will not be disappointed. Russell reads monologues from
Shirley Valentine which have the audience in stitches. He also plays the role of the narrator from Blood Brothers as Firth sings his new album title track "Harmless Flirting." The juxtaposition here is ingenious as each song has been hand picked for its relevance to the readings it is framed by. Firth reads a scene from his hit TV show Preston Front. This reviewer would have loved to have heard material from Our House or a line or two from Calendar Girls featuring those "considerably bigger buns" but you can't have it all.
This is a unique evening that not only showcases two brand new albums, it also invites the audience to see and hear the talent behind the curtain of two West End hits. There is certainly more to musical theatre than the names of Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber and these two funny, humble and talented wordsmiths provide the proof.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at Manchester's Opera House)
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