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All The Fun Of The Fair (Southampton - tour)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Roll on up and enjoy the main attraction, as David Essex performs effortlessly in this colourful yet sometimes dark musical for which he wrote the lyrics and music. The show is a clever vehicle for some of his greatest hits and as soon as he appears on stage he captivates the audience with his piercing blue eyes and cracked voice.

The story is based around a failing travelling fairground with a love story and a fatal affair intrinsically threaded throughout. There are some beautifully poignant moments. Levi Lee (David Essex) laments with his haunting rendition of ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ in three moving scenes. Tim Newman plays Jonny, a simple, vulnerable character, with his longing to be accepted into the Levi fold. He plays this with deft touch, both humorous and tragic, revealing his remarkable insight into the workings of the fairground community.

Levi’s son Jack Rob Compton gives a superb performance as a troubled soul, fighting his personal battle between fierce loyalty to his father and his need to explore the wider world. A charismatic figure, his hearty singing voice compliments the quiet resolve of Levi. Alice Tanya Robb is his blonde love interest, and comes from a different world, Their whirlwind relationship is eventually his downfall.

The ensemble perform well, although would be more believable in this context with greater numbers.

Although the set is simple by today’s standards it shrewdly highlights the depth of the characters portrayed. Harvey David Burrows although relatively small in stature has a mighty voice and his henchman Druid Barry Bloxham plays a menacing part, although at times, unfortunately, reminds me of a young Paul Nicholas. Mother and daughter Rosa and Mary Susan Hallam-Wright and Louise English have both the fire and empathy of an Irish mother and daughter, both searching for love and ultimately losing out.

This is a highly watchable musical although without the flair and verve of many of its peers. The story line, although often predictable, is well told and draws one in. The show does not quite hit the mark but is certainly worth a visit, the more so if you are a David Essex fan.


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