Spend, Spend, Spend

JOHN LAWSON Norwich Playhouse


Perhaps joyous is the wrong word to use when describing Threshold Theatre's sparkling production. But such is the exuberance and pizzazz of this fine company even the darkest moments of this story of legendary pools winner Viv Nicholson have a hint of joy.

Despite the despair in her life, Nicholson has remained a survivor – a woman whose lust for life has overcome her rags to riches to rags story.

It was fitting therefore Viv herself should have been in the audience to watch the first night of this East Anglian amateur premiere.

Only one other amateur group nationwide has so far produced Steve Brown and Justin Greene's musically demanding and emotionally draining show – and Viv is to help direct a forthcoming production in Sheffield.

Is it presumptious to suggest she will have drawn some pointers from director Greg Fitch?

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The leading characters were all beautifully drawn. The older Viv (Andrea Ferguson), who acts as narrator, stands world-weary but unbowed at the side almost throughout.

Ferguson has real presence and a great voice which blends beautifully with her younger self (Sara Crowley) in the story's flashbacks.

There is great chemistry between Crowley and Andy Lofthouse as the tragic Keith, the love of Viv's life, who died in a car crash soon after their £152,000 pools win of 1961.

Ian Chisholm is like Pete Postlethwaite as Viv's drunken father, with Val Lofthouse giving strong support as Viv's mum.

There are some powerful and thought- provoking songs in Brown's great score.

The ensemble numbers John Collier and the title song are well supported by Esther Thirkettle's punchy seven-piece band and both show off the work of choreographers Jean and Jayne Cator to the full.