Dance to Your Daddy

Date 17th July 2013
Society Westovian Theatre Society
Venue Pier Pavilion, South Shields
Type of Production Musical Play
Director David Cook (also author)
Musical Director Grahame Wright

Report

Author: Gordon Richardson

Described in the programme as a “trip down memory ‘back’ lane” this musical play didn’t breach any trade descriptions, for that is exactly what is was for people of a ‘certain age’ from the North, and in particular South Tyneside.  Set in the back lane of a South Shields row of terraced houses between the period of 1940 to early 60’s the story told of the life of Jimmy Sinclair (Jim Barton) born of indeterminate parentage. Rumours continued over the years of who was Jimmy’s dad, and his mam Mary (Angela Szalay) would not, or could not, oblige for Mary was in a permanent childlike demeanour and described as ‘backward’.  She was constantly looked after in the street by lifelong friend Louise (Audreyann Myers) and, once returned from the war, her husband Joe (David Hamilton). There was even doubt whether Mary was the mother as Louise claimed the child as her own born out of wedlock whilst Joe was away at war. All this was explained to the audience in colloquial language by the Narrator (Carol Cook). After Mary’s untimely death saving Louise from a fire and Louise’s worsening mental state, Jimmy’s reconciliation with his biological dad George (Mark Lamb) finally sent would-be mother Louise firmly over the edge.

The play was ably supported by no less than ten other actors as gossiping neighbours, friends and factory owners and their wives. Particular praise goes to Kylie Ann Ford for stepping into the role of Edna at a week's notice due to the illness of the original role holder.

Musical numbers were well adapted and sung in this thought-provoking play ending with a full cast rendition of “Dance to Your Daddy” in part harmony. Special mention must be reserved for the set of the back street which, whilst ‘fixed’, portrayed the modernisation techniques over the years from the arrival of midden men to take away human waste to outside loos, and finally attached (albeit Heath Robinson) bathrooms.

This was an excellent play superbly written and directed by David Cooke and performed with some fine acting, especially in the roles of Louise and Mary for their portrayals of women living on the edge of sanity. Given the local references and nature of the play I’m sure that it could have a wider appeal in a bigger stage in, for example, Newcastle. Really well done again to Westovians.