Musical: The model of an English burlesque




THE KISSING-DANCE or She Stoops to Conquer. That's an "or", note, not an "either or". Charles Hart and Howard Goodall are insistent that Oliver Goldsmith is still very much the driving force of their "burlesque musical comedy" for the National Youth Music Theatre. The play's the thing. But then, so is the musical.

Hart, in particular, enjoys much sport with Goldsmith, nudging the text with his smart and rapacious lyrics, manipulating this comedy of ill manners so that its late-18th-century spirit is possessed of a late-20th- century tone. It's all in the word play. Goldsmith would, I fancy, have applauded Hart's dexterity and been more than happy to have him put words into his mouth. Hart and Goodall's "song strategy" is on the button: sometimes, their musical interjections take the form of quasi-recitatives - tantalising tasters, promise as yet unfulfilled; but mostly they are fully fledged "numbers", illuminating key intrigues and forwarding plot with Goldsmithian panache. There's a particularly fine example when Marlow and Hastings stop at the Fur and Feathers to ask directions to Nonesuch House. Tony Lumpkin's incomprehensible rewriting of the Ordnance Survey puts the spin on the entire evening. As Lumpkin later reminds us: "It's been up and down like a harlot's gown". That's Hart. Could Goldsmith have done better?

Then there's Goodall's music, its Englishness inbred in a way that has nothing to do with pastiche and can be defined only by its own very sweet, quirky, very distinctive character. The title number is a case in point - a shadowy little idyll of a tune, insidiously memorable. Goodall's love of polyphony (the English choral tradition) makes for some smashing ensembles, while his instrumentation cleverly hints at period and local colour, a piano accordion pointing up the inheritance of street music, a solo trumpet lending both melancholy and a blast of the tally-ho's to his racy Act 1 finale, the "hunt" for Lady Hardcastle's jewels.

There's a future for this piece, no question, but for now we have NYMT and the vision of directors Russell Labey and Jeremy James Taylor to thank for its first outing. If you're talent-spotting, you don't have to look far. On Tuesday night, initial nervousness made for inhibition and a sense of the house being underplayed. For a while the show was under starter's orders. But not for long. Ian Virgo's engaging Tony Lumpkin was banking on a photo-finish from the off; Akiya Henry's Constance took a feverish turn on the virginal; Alexander Hassell amusingly caught Marlow's breakdown of co-ordination when confronted with girls "of his own station"; Michael Jibson was affecting as Hastings; and Simon Thomas, as his servant Stingo, upstaged even his funny hat. Funny, too, was Jess Brooks' Mrs Hardcastle, while Neil Clench's glowering Dick Hardcastle was always going to fall victim to some Stoppardian name-play. "Small, Dick?" Naturally.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk