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Review: Going Grey, Drip Drop Theatre, 41 Monkgate, York
GOING Grey announces the arrival of a new theatre company from York in a new musical comedy, all put together by Emily Roberts, a director/composer/librettist/playwright/designer/choreographer/photographer/musical director/pianist new to York’s theatre scene.
Emily, or ECR Roberts, to give her her writing credit, is a boundlessly energetic music teacher at Boroughbridge High School with a passion for the songs of Cole Porter and Pet Shop Boys.
Going Grey has been bubbling away for several years and has finally come to fruition in the year Emily turns 40, the age of her principal character, Helen, owner of the Little Blue Café in Shambles.
As the play opens, Helen (Jo Wragg) is returning to work four months after the sudden death of husband Tim from a heart attack. Ostensibly, the theme is widowhood, or more specifically “getting over something that you never thought you could get over”, coupled with a more general theme of growing older and dealing with all those little things that life throws at you, such as going grey.
The story has three main strands: firstly, the life in the day of a café (redolent of Victoria Wood’s dinnerladies), with staff tittle-tattle, gentle counsel from chef David (Maurice Crichton) and a chess-playing nerdy customer, Alan (Daniel Wilmot), besotted with Helen.
Secondly comes the hen weekend lead-up to Helen’s sister Lou’s fourth wedding, this time solely for money. Rosy Rowley’s Lou has the best lines, the best singing voice, the most rounded character, the most fun, joined in Robin Hood’s Bay by hippy, mellow sister Ali (Alex Baldry), Jo’s best friend Charlotte (Sarah Sketchley) and party-loving Becks (Rachel Alexander-Hill) and Lizzie (Janice Barnes-Newton).
Robin Hood’s Bay introduces the all-important third element, successful author Phillip (Andy Field), who could be the man to write a new chapter in Helen’s life.
Into a story rooted in sitcom/soap opera dialogue comes a transgender psychic (Matt Pattinson) and 15 songs, set to piano, violin, cello and bass guitar accompaniment. The best are the humorous setpieces, waitresses Natalie Brimicombe, Louise Carter and Vicki Glover’s girl group pastiche Tastes So Good and the salsa-dancing Dance With Me. Wilmot’s desperate declaration of love in I Want You is a comic highpoint too.
The three-hour running time tells you there are too many characters, too many storylines, too many numbers, but Emily Roberts definitely has a talent to amuse through song.
• Going Grey, Drip Drop Theatre, 41 Monkgate, York, tonight at 7.30pm; sold out.