The tale of the Cockney chappie barrow-boy who inherits an earldom and almost loses his Lambeth lass is looking tired. In the lead, Brian Conley is little more than an assortment of manic bits of business without a character to hang them on, and Stephen Fry's book seems largely to be a scissors-and-paste job on fragments of various older incarnations.
Production values are firmly rooted in the '30s (despite the post-Madonna negligée sported by the vamp): plenty of country-house backdrops and a lot of formal chorus hoofing – even bursts of tap-dancing, ferchrissakes. As for the legendary Lambeth Walk, no-one seems to know what it actually entails beyond going "Oi!" every eight bars. The show's continuing coach-party popularity seems to rest on its purveyance of easy-to-digest English class stereotypes; it has little else to offer beyond a score of live supermarket music. You've seen, and heard, it all before.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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