Our Blue Heaven review at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich – ‘dusted with magic’
Forty years ago last Sunday, Bobby Robson’s Ipswich Town beat Arsenal 1-0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup, the sensational culmination of a cup run that remains the stuff of legend among supporters.
That 1978 triumph is now the subject of a new jukebox musical, written and directed by New Wolsey artistic director Peter Rowe – a clichéd but commendably community-focused musical with a huge heart.
To a soundtrack of late 1970s classics – Blondie, the Bee Gees, Bowie – we watch teenage superfan Sue follow her team from Cardiff, to Bristol, to Millwall, to West Brom, to Wembley.
Meanwhile, Sue’s striking fireman dad Brian desperately needs cash, her sister Mel is planning her wedding to sailor Scott, and fellow fans Smudger and Ange are preparing for their first child. Wedding day and due date are both on May 6th – cup final day.
Scene swiftly follows scene on Amy Jane Cook’s open-plan, astroturf design. Gantries and banners recreate stadiums. Dan De Cruz’s band play from a box up top, bedecked in seventies-style shirts.
Sometimes Peter Peverley’s Bobby Robson, a softly-spoken Geordie, saunters on to postulate about football and life. The match scenes – often a hiccup in football-focused shows – are smartly choreographed with a nine-strong community chorus.
It’s the audience that makes this show. They’re noisily nostalgic from the off, waiving scarfs and cheering like they’re at nearby Portman Road. When actual FA Cup winner Roger Osborne pops up at the end, there’s not a dry eye in the house.
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