The cast of Betty Blue Eyes

Review: Betty Blue Eyes

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
9.35 AM

Musicals can sometimes take themselves too seriously. While that was never likely to be a risk with a production based on an Alan Bennett text, the levels of whimsy in Betty Blue Eyes need to be seen to be believed.

Gilbert Chilvers (Haydn Oakley) is the new chiropodist in town and his wife Joyce (Amy Booth-Steel) can’t rest until they’ve ingratiated themselves with the local bigwigs.

In the midst of post-war rationing that means bagging an invite to ‘a private function’ to celebrate Princess Elizabeth’s marriage – and the delectation of a succulent (but unlicensed) pig.

That the pig becomes one of the main characters gives some indication of how bonkers this show is, but it is exuberantly and tastily so, yet resists the temptation to really ham it up.

The ensemble cook up a surreal world of ration books, suspicion and (possibly) hallucinogenic delight.

Tobias Beer plays Mr Wormold the meat inspector with pantomime levels of menace.

Sally Mates has great comic timing as the unfortunate foot doctor’s mother in law.

Lauren Logan does a great job of bringing the titular pig Betty to life in puppet form.

The songs are witty and clever, with choreographed nods to 1940s swing and morris dancing in the bigger set pieces; the ballroom scene is particularly impressive.

This is Bennett’s Britain set to music: absurd, a little bitchy, a tad crude, but almost emotional, catchy and enjoyable.

Now where’s the apple sauce?

Betty Blue Eyes continues at the Theatre Royal, Norwich until Saturday.