The Boy Friend

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich


How nice to be in Nice! Bring on the dancing girls, kicking up their heels and tapping their toes, dressed in colours that positively sing while they enjoy the tunes that capture the spirit of an age when love was all the better for a little innocence.

John Linford is musical director, with bass and drums to make the rhythms just that much more catchy, and director Christian de' l'Argy knows the art of keeping the stage full of characters without making it seem crowded. Well-named, Michael Bloom creates a comedy of costumes as bright as spring flowers. Twenties fashions, swimsuits and fancy dress for the ball all have their part to play in Sandy Wilson's celebration of calf love.

To give it perspective, David Wines, as Lord Brockhurst, represents an older generation still able to stake its claim until called to order by an impressively imperious Susan Seddon. Meantime, the butterflies flutter.

Valiantly coping with the sad handicap of expecting to inherit millions, Ellen Kemp's Polly strikes a note of touching shyness until she provides a musical high point in duet with Paula Wolfe's Madame Dubonnet in Poor Little Pierette.

Natasha Purwin both looks and sounds right as the French maid, a size bigger and a few years more experienced than the girls.

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The young men have fewer opportunities to shine. But, the very picture of English college boys in blazers and flannels at the start, they show imagination in the final act. Barnaby Matley in singlet and shorts adds a particular touch of gormless gaiety to the beach scene.

t The Boy Friend continues at the Maddermarket Theatre until Saturday April 10. Box office: 01603 620917.

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