If you cringe at the thought of a jukebox musical with shoddy storylines and tacky, crass characters, you’ll find a refreshing alternative in Satin 'n' Steel, a pleasing new play from Amanda Whittington. For while some shows mould themselves round music, here it is the script that’s the star – well, almost.
With few aspirations to better her factory-girl life, it takes established club singer Vince Steel’s intrepid determination to turn Tina White into a star. Realising her potential, Vince takes her under his wing and together they become Satin ‘n Steel, the hottest club act on the circuit. It takes no genius to predict that their story has the usual highs and lows, but told with a flashback narrative, we know they’ll face a messy break-up in the end.
Belting out songs such as “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “The Wind Beneath My Wings” is the talented duo of Norman Pace and Sara Poyzer. They carry this show admirably, not least when faced with tunes we’re so familiar with. Poyzer in particular is especially believable, her rise from nervous first-timer to experienced cruise-ship star well portrayed.
There are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. From a bizarrely up-tempo version of “Imagine” to some punchy, sharp one-liners. Good topical references are a rarity these days, but here they sit comfortably not tactlessly. Whittington’s script at times feels undeveloped – a n unnecessary, weak bisexual subplot fails to ignite any intended conflict, and it does dabble in cliché a lot - but director Esther Richardson smoothes these creases well.
Making references to Shirebrook, Burnley, Scarborough and Hull, this is certainly a play meant for the regions. Recognising her audience, Whittington turns a simple idea into a fluid, well-paced script, interspersed with karaoke classics crucial to assist the production’s themes. But, in all honesty, I can’t remember the last time audiences left an auditorium smiling so brightly, myself included.
If all else fails for the stars of the show, they could seriously consider joining the club scene, where they’d make a great addition. Like Satin 'n' Steel, Pace ‘n’ Poyzer are a match made in heaven. A great, charming crowd-pleaser.
- Jake Brunger (reviewed at the Nottingham Playhouse)