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The Young Ones (Hornchurch)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Fifty years is a long period in the passage of cultural time. The teenagers in the original Cliff Richards’ vehicle seem light years away from those depicted in today’s media. Very sensibly, director Matt Devitt and designer Rodney Ford have elected to treat their stage production as a thorough-going period piece.

Donna Berlin’s choreography helps this enormously. Those circular-skirted, pre-A line dresses with their ruched petticoats are made for twirling and swirling; the girls of the cast do a lot of that. Our clean-cut hero is Nicky, son of a property developer – but this chip from the family building block has a social conscience. Mark Stanford makes him entirely credible, and sings well to boot.

The heroine is Toni, played by company newcomer Fiona Finsbury. You can believe in her heartache when Nicky is apparently vamped by chanteuse Dorinda (Wendy Paver) and she puts over “No one for me’ beautifully. Natasha Moore as Barbara, the drama student, is a Rive Gauche wisp in an oversized sweater while Simon Jessup thoroughly enjoys himself as tycoon Hamilton Black; what’s more, we have fun with the character as well.

Opening the second half is the kaleidoscopic “We’ve got a show’ production number. This whirlwind of knockabout, quick costume changes and apparent improvisation (courtesy of an oversized property basket) is a real show-stopper. As always with the cut to the chase… company, the cast is also the on-stage band. The Queen’s Theatre has a new youth company Cut2 and this provided the other youth club members, integrating seamlessly with the professional cast.


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