REVIEW: Me and My Girl

Chichester Festival Theatre

COR blimey missus. It’s a show stopper.

Chichester Festival’s latest foray into the world of cockney barrow boys, dropped H’s and wars of manners between the classes with Me and My Girl (Half a Sixpence transferred to London after its successful season at Chichester in 2016) is a stunning success, writes Ian Murray.

True, there’s not a lot that should go wrong with the show that includes a wealth of comedy and such memorable, and some would say sacred, British musical numbers as Leaning on a Lamppost, The Sun has got His Hat On and The Lambeth Walk, although a reported throat infection for star, comedian Matt Lucas earlier in the run would no doubt have proved a challenge.

And there were times when Lucas, glorious in the role of Bill Snibson the cockney wide-boy who suddenly finds himself heir to an earldom, looked to be saving his delivery in a bid to preserve his vocal chords. But his performance was nevertheless a tour de force, bouncing cockney-rhyming wit off his blue-blood nemesis Maria, Duchesse of Dene played by the fabulous Caroline Quentin.

Alex Young plays Sally Smith, Bill’s sweetheart from Lambeth who is prepared to give him up rather than see the cheeky-chappy lose his inheritance.

But if anything the show’s real stars are the showstopping set piece numbers where choreographer Alistair David weaves his magic to stunning effect. What’s not to like with tap-dancing, welly-wearing factory girls!

Chuck in an up-dated yet still tremendous Noel Gay musical score courtesy of Gareth Valentine, a wealth of cockney slang lessons for cast and audience alike, and you have a hit that is bound to transfer to the West End.

True, the theme of cockney couple having to shed their roots to become acceptable to society does grate with modern sensibilities, even if up-dated here by no less than Stephen Fry who has revised the original book and lyrics. But after Downton Abbey no one can surely doubt the allure of being to the manor born.

Runs until August 25. Grab what few tickets are left, me old cock sparrows.

Ian Murray