It’s Chicago in the late 1930s and the area known as Black Metropolis has been ravaged by the Great Depression – though it was once a thriving hub for the African-American communities that flocked there in more prosperous times.
Three women – The Lady (Sharon D Clarke), The Woman (Debbie Kurup) and The Girl (Gemma Sutton) – are joined by The Man (Clive Rowe) and united in song as they relive some of the best and worst memories of their lives.
There isn’t much in the way of a plot to Blues in the Night, but it doesn’t really need one since it consists of timeless songs by blues and jazz legends Bessie Smith and Alberta Hunter plus the work of eminent composers including Vernon Duke and Gordon Jenkins – all performed with supreme vocal skill by an ensemble including the Olivier-winning Clarke. Belter after belter is sumptuously supported by house band Oscar and the Strollers, led by Mark Dickman.
Robert Jones’ design recreates the mood of the era with a set filled with the swirly smoke of chain-smokers and made from the rich mahogany of the time. It’s perfectly complemented by Lotte Collett’s stylish vintage costumes.
This is the first major London revival of Blues in the Night in 30 years, and it could not have arrived at a better time; it’s impossible not to enjoy Susie McKenna’s dazzling production – it’s a perfect antidote to those feelings of impending doom.