Charity No: 260045

WHO'D HAVE THOUGHT IT?

 

"Out here in the fields I fight for my meals" cried Roger Daltrey in The Who's 'Baba O'Reilly' - "I put my back into my living."

Out in the fields of Nidderdale they may not do a lot of scrapping, but the cast of Keith Burton's new play at the Pateley Bridge Playhouse certainly put their backs into proceedings.

Not just during the performances, either, but in the weeks that have led up to them: in a grand example of life imitating art, to tell the tale of a misbegotten crew attempting to pass themselves off as a Who tribute band, the actors learnt new instruments - in the case of one performer, picking up the drums from scratch in a matter of months.
Set in a bucolic version of middle England that would make Richard Curtis feel right at home, the story unfolds in and around a village hall as the committee of a beleaguered local museum bungle successive attempts to secure the funding they need to keep it open.
Pompous Reginald (Nevin Ward) ...
... flamboyant Magnus (Jerry Harvey) ...
... capable Lynne (Linda Harvey) ...
... and dyspeptic Timothy (Steve Rouse) fall foul of their own incompetence ...
... and the sharp tongue of the hall's caretaker, Tallulah (Carol Bailey), offending various Government Ministers and managing to leave their institution with a mere 85p in the cash box. "We could sell the box for more," observes Magnus.
Out of ideas, they hit on the notion of impersonating a once-famous-ish Who tribute act - the original members of which are conveniently dead - at a forthcoming battle of the bands, hoping to snaffle the cash prize and save the museum.
Aided by mildly narcissistic choir master Julian (Michael Thorne) ...
... and church organist Hilda (Ruth Dodsworth) ...
... alongside is-she-with-them-or-not friend Chrissie (Joyce Liggins), they set about attempting to become avatars for one of Rock 'n' Roll's most iconic acts.
If that sounds daft, it is. The fact that the premise - one that Keith Moon would surely have deemed too out there even for him - holds together at all is down to two things: a witty and observant script that's self-conscious enough to recognise and revel in its own absurdity, while simultaneously acknowledging the transformative power of music; and a talented cast who throw themselves at it with energy, grace and rock star levels of gleeful abandon.
There are some twists, some laughs, a poignant sub-plot played with fine restraint by Harvey, a tremendous training montage that wins deserved applause, and of course a triumphant finale that, when it arrives, feels like everyone involved has earned it.
Dodsworth transforms into mystic rock organist ...
... Ward's liberated character finds his bass groove ...
... Bailey's extraordinary crash course sees her on drums powering the whole thing ...
... while Thorne and Rouse channel Daltrey and Townshend with total committment - windmilling and mic-swinging included - to lead a live rendition of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' that brings the house down.

Audiences have been whooping, cheering, singing and leaving with smiles on their faces matched only by those of the cast, who have clearly been having a ball.

Like the band that insipired it, 'Who'd Have Thought It?' is irreverent, riotous, serious fun.

There's no substitute for that.


 

Review by Russ Thorne

 

Photographs by Chris Iredale and Debbie Forsyth

 

A YouTube trailer for the show can be found here!

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