Theatre Review: Miss Nightingale At Hippodrome Casino
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Across Leicester Square, Emma Rice’s smartly reinterpreted Noël Coward weepie Brief Encounter could not be a better model for an original treatment of clandestine love interlaced with 1940s cabaret songs.
At the Hippodrome Casino, Matthew Bugg is to be congratulated in writing an original wartime musical although the material struggles to rise above the predictable or pastiche. Ration books and air raid warnings set the scene but despite Lauren Chinery's energetic performance, Miss Nightingale herself is a coarse cross between Gracie Fields and Sally Bowles, catapulted to success via an opportunistic dalliance with a wealthy producer, the rapidity of which might make a Weinstein blush.
Vengeance and blackmail colour the second half by threatening the illicit liaison between titled and buttoned-up Englishman Frank and his lover George, a Jewish Polish camply gay émigré from Berlin and a walking cliché in the writing, although well-detailed in Matthew Floyd Jones' sweet and sensitive interpretation.
16 songs echo Weimar-styled Kander and Ebb or wartime mockney kneesuppery but the two you take away from the show are encouragingly vulgar. The Sausage song will make your toes curl, but if you’ve had a drink or two the sheer filth of ‘I’ve Gone and Trapped My Pussy in the Door’ is so bracingly funny when performed by an actress facing entirely away from the audience you may forget that word wasn’t popular as a euphemism for genitalia until long after the war.
Miss Nightingale, Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square, Wc2. Until 6 May 2018. Tickets £25-£42.50.
Last Updated 27 March 2018