Little Theatre Company
Live theatre in the heart of Burton upon Trent
Betty Blue Eyes
by George Stiles & Anthony Drewe Book by Ron Cowen & David Lipman
Performed: November 2017
Review by Caroline Kay - Burton Mail
Fresh, funny and fab-u-lous!
I am rarely disappointed with any amateur dramatics show which is performed in Burton, and over the last few years have seen some absolute gems.
I've been wowed by Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, brushed tears away from my cheeks at Les Misérables, and laughed until my sides have ached at Little Shop of Horrors and Avenue Q.
Some productions are crowd pleasers – Oliver! and Oklahoma to name but two, but I am always intrigued to pop my bum on a seat and watch something completely new – and Betty Blue Eyes is just that. Fresh, funny and fab-u-lous!
Performed by Burton's own Little Theatre Company, the show is based on Alan Bennett's play and 1984 film A Private Function. Set in 1947 and, having won the war, Britain seems to have lost peace, and the country is staggering under the burden of acute rationing, unemployment and the coldest winter for decades.
In the northern town of Shepardsford, residents are planning a banquet dinner to celebrate the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
The tale follows a bunch of eccentric characters including Gilbert Chilvers (Leon Ratcliffe) and his wife Joyce (Katie Haywood) – along with her mother 'who is 74 and ravenous' (Karen Hailstone).
Gilbert is a chiropodist and Joyce has high expectations for him to open his own business. However, the town officials Mr Allardyce (Phil Robinson), Mr Lockwood (Tim Robinson) and Dr Swaby (Peter Clemson) have other ideas. They are too busy planning to feather their own nests and have a secret which will make their banquet, the banquet to end all banquets – a pig!
'Jobsworth' meat inspector Mr Wormold (Rob Tunley) is on the prowl and ready to shut down and lock up any butcher circumventing food rationing. In fact, he is looking to arrest anyone who gets in his way, so the pig – our heroine Betty Blue Eyes – is being kept hidden courtesy of Farmer Sutcliffe (Pete Banton) before she is set to become the centrepiece for the feast to celebrate the Royal Wedding.
However, because the town officials turned down Gilbert's application to open his own surgery, he takes himself off to the farm where Betty is being reared and hot foots it home with the pig with hilarious consequences.
The show is a real gem with some top-tapping, humming tunes – and I defy anyone not to walk out of The Brewhouse Arts Centre singing 'Betty Blue Eyes'.
There is excellent comedy timing by the entire ensemble and Katie Haywood was born to play the part of Joyce Chilvers. Add this in the mix with excellent musical accompaniment by a top-notch band and, again, first-class direction by John Bowness, then what have you got? You've got a mighty fine show!
And with a musical score by Styles and Drew (of Mary Poppins stage show fame, they penned the extra songs for the West End hit) what's not to like?
Images from this show
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