REVIEW: Betty Blue Eyes

Haydn Oakley and Amy Booth-Steel. Picture by Robert Day

Haydn Oakley and Amy Booth-Steel. Picture by Robert Day

First published in Entertainments
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IT is hard to imagine a musical with a more British feel than Betty Blue Eyes, and this show captures everything that is good about theatre in this country.

Based on Alan Bennett’s A Private Function, this co-production by Salisbury Playhouse, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Mercury Theatre Colchester and West Yorkshire Playhouseproduction is wonderfully silly and utterly charming.

It captures those truly British sentiments; a love of animals with cute faces, deep rooted class snobbery and dreams of social climbing and mixes them with catchy songs and a touching tale.

Set in 1947, rationing, queuing and hunger are still a part of daily life in post-war Britain.

And while the official line might be fair sharing, those in the higher echelons of society seem to expect more fair shares than others.

Chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers – played by the excellent Haydn Oakley – dreams of having a surgery on his town’s parade.

But the only way to get the attention of the snobbish officials is to steal the pig Betty Blue, which is destined to be the main course at a banquet to celebrate the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Betty Blue Eyes is packed full of songs that bring as many laughs as the witty dialogue and clever direction.

Amy Booth-Steel shines as the determined Mrs Chilvers, and Sally Mates is a treat as Mother Dear.

The whole cast sing, dance and play instruments, giving real energy and sparkle to characters trying to move on from the war and look forward to a brighter future in a time of rapid social change.

And special mention must go to Betty herself, the wonderfully engineered pig that puts in a great star turn.

Betty Blue Eyes oozes feel-good factor and despite its craziness brings a beaming smile to your face that is hard to wipe off.

JILL HARDING

* Betty Blue Eyes is a Salisbury Playhouse until Saturday, May 17. Tickets from the box office on 01722 320333 or salisburyplayhouse.com.

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