Back for a second run at the New Wolsey, and with the economic climate now so similar to that of the late 70s when Ian Dury and The Blockheads were in their chart-busting pomp, this riot of noise and colourful language hits the spot with the toe-end of a Doc Marten.
A scene from Reasons to Be Cheerful at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (previous picture shows Nadia Albina as Janine and John Kelly as John) Photo: Patrick Baldwin
Paul Sirett’s script snaps, snarls, laughs and leers, just like Dury’s music and just like the punk movement he used as a vehicle to express his near-the-knuckle opinions, including his strident belief that Britain should stop looking down its snout at disabled people. Some 35 years on there is much work still to be done but where access and involvement are concerned, the Graeae theatre company evidently remains well up for the challenge.
Non-conformity and naivety were the cornerstones of punk. This eclectic cast of actors and musicians conveys the mood perfectly in a sweet story about Vinnie and his band and the play they perform in the Old Red Lion about the time in 1979 when they tried and failed to see Ian Dury in concert.
Stephen Lloyd gives us a wonderfully tender and compassionate Vinnie. The interplay between he and Colin, played by deaf actor Stephen Collins, is an uplifting delight. Collins’ comedic gifts are many; so too Daniel McGowan as the mean-spirited supermarket manager Dave, whose feel for malevolence is as impressive as his sax playing.
Nadia Albina plays love interest Janine with just the right dose of shop girl sassiness while Garry Robson as Vinnie’s cancer-stricken dad, Karen Spicer as his mum and John Kelly as the singer in the band, are the other stand-outs.
None of the cast in this rip-roaring production misses a beat.