Greenside at Nicholson Square
“Old potatoes, old potatoesss!” sing the audience with their hands in the air—and I’m right with them. This show is glorious entertainment. There’s nothing new here, but that’s not really the point: the point is fulfilling the audience’s expectations of character and plot and making them sing. The songs are superb, lyrically and musically from the introductory instrumental, coming on like a country & western Go! Team to the main theme Butterfly, which has a gorgeous tune, to the singalongs with Ma—basic, and limited to the word potatoes, but the audience go with it—at top voice. The plot follows familiar tropes of musical narratives: boy meets girl/seeking adventure and fame in the city (the smoky city)/ innocence to experience/rags to riches—the narrative makes many cross cultural references including Hansel & Gretal —Madonna Toxic Girl and of course the X factor where the young innocents are potentially money-making commodities.
The characters are all superb–but a special mention to the beautifully unctuous impresario who combines all the pantomime villains you can think of–from Dick Dastardly to the Child Catcher in Chitty Bang Bang. The crowd love/hate him and in one hilarious/worrying scene he emerges from the audience with a chain saw in his hand waving it maliciously in the faces of an unsuspecting audience. The rest of the cast, however, are also top notch: the country & western narrator line dances amusingly while narrating; Ma is the Irish patriarch obsessed with potatoes and her son, farmhand Billy—the innocent foil to the proceedings. Ma may also be suspiciously familiar to those of you who watch Mrs Brown’s Boys. Finally the love-foil Arlene thirsting for fame, but eventually to become the drugged and emaciated Toxic Girl before the plot resolution restores her to the arms of her true love, Billy. In the words of Ma: “Yee’d be an eejit not t’ see it”.
Reviewer : Paul Rivers