Calamity Jane, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Sometimes it is good to get away from it all – in this instance, far away and way back in time.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Sometimes it is good to get away from it all – in this instance, far away and way back in time.

Back not to the Wild West, but to the Wild West that never really was, though it ought to have been to satisfy imagination about an era when feelings ran high and a good song could settle everything before matters got too serious.

So in bounces Calamity in the shape of Toyah Willcox.

Just about 5ft of electrifying energy, whip-cracking, pistol-packing and gripping the Theatre Royal audience.

She even takes us back to those days when just the sight of a girl in trousers thrilled every man in the audience. Her partner Alastair Harvey, a big man, makes her seem even smaller, with a large voice to match.

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In support, a cast that takes the secondary roles joins up again in the ensemble, high-kicking, smartly manoeuvring and catching every change of mood – often, literally, at the drop of a hat.

The jokes are there, but no one lingers on them. Because this is a show that has to go on and on, carrying us along before we think too much.

The production by Ed Curtis is better than slick – it is polished.

And watching the scenes transform before our eyes is a genuine part of the fun.

Smartening Calamity's cabin couldn't be done better.

And those Black Hills of Dakota are a delight for more than two hours, a rugged chain on the horizon and a back cloth that captures every tint of splendid sunsets.

The musical director is Robert Cousins, quick on the uptake at the start of the numbers and giving support that is vigorous and full of character without ever getting too loud.

Christopher Smith

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