Review: Entertaining revival of stage comedy Victoria Wood in Sheffield Crucible
Victoria wrote Talent in 1978 for the Sheffield Theater as a rising writer who knew all about the talent shows she had so recently appeared in on her own. He was seen in the Crucible Studio that year with Victoria playing the role of Maureen.
A friend of mine who saw the original show remembers laughing out loud in front of Victoria and loving her performance.
The show takes place in a seedy 1970s dressing room backstage at North Bunters nightclub, where aspiring singer Julie and her friend Maureen start off with high hopes for Julie that a talent competition will propel her towards her dream of ‘appear on television in New Faces or Opportunity Knocks. and escape his monotonous life in a glitzy make-believe world of celebrity.
Reality is nothing like her dreams – she meets an ex-boyfriend working at the club who brings back unwanted memories, a sexually predatory shill, and older performers who still tour.
The toilets are unusable, a backing musician cannot perform, and the contest is rigged by the club owner to promote the star he is running.
All of this is visualized in the opening number, where a nerdy club singer performs on a stage draped in glittery fabric that is washed away at the end of the number to show the seedy reality below.
Everyone’s Talking Jamie star Lucie Shorthouse is endearing but not completely in her stride as Julie, nervously chatting and smoking up Players No6 while knocking down the Babycham as she prepares for her big time.
It becomes clear that she is fantasizing about her life, claiming that her boyfriend Dave sent roses and a large good luck card when a phone call reveals that he has forgotten what she is doing and is entertaining him. ‘other girls at home.
Victoria Wood perhaps gave herself the best role and the best songs as sidekick Maureen, beautifully hosted by Jamie-Rose Monk. She reveals herself as a naive and sexually inexperienced homebody, bemoaning her “big bones” who is so used to looking sideways that she is easily flattered to consider the friend’s invitation to join him in her white Cortina, minus the panties. .
Early Doors actor James Quinn is a cheerful middle-aged magician, and Richard Cant is incredibly eccentric like his friend Arthur.
Jonathon Ojinnaka gives an entertaining performance as Julie’s ex-boyfriend Mel and Daniel Crossley is both creepy and compelling as a shill and excellent as the lead singer of the opening song.
It will always be difficult to create an atmosphere with a distanced and dispersed audience watching wearing masks but the actors, led by Paul Foster, all give good performances without going out of their way to squeeze as much laughter out as possible from a very clever.
Janet Bird’s design is wonderfully evocative, from Julie’s Charlie’s Angel back hairstyle to the shabby ensemble.