Producer John Greco's penchant for setting up theatrical shop in incongruous pubs and clubs can be admirably pioneering. In this case, however, even at full tilt the live musical accompaniment (from a mini-keyboard) is hard put to best the roar of the hot-air dryer in the Gents' next door. A severe handicap on a play that can ill afford any encumbrance.
Kevin Macdonogh's collage of songs and sketches portrays the WW2 garrisoning in Brighton of a number of Canadian regiments, culminating in the bloody and disastrous 1942 raid of the title. Metropolitan snobbery aside, it's not a tale that travels; we don't start out interested, and the play and production don't win us over. Most of the time it can't decide whether it's drama or revue, and at the press performance the eventual climax, Mark St Joseph's blow-by-calamitous-blow account of the raid, was assailed not by German shelling but by the jukebox upstairs ("Substitute" by The Who, I remember noticing). The arrangement of such basic co-operation from the pub management ought to go without saying, and in this case obviously did. Ill-conceived, cheesy in execution and dispiritingly hole-in-corner.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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