“It’s more village, less sex if I’m honest”
Set in the tiny Dibley-like hamlet of Chatterly which is being threatened by supermarket development, Rebecca Applin and Susannah Pearse’s Sex and the Village is a rather delightful little musical developed by Perfect Pitch and recorded here by a mixture of professional actors and singers from the Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society who won the right to present the premiere of this show which they did in Suffolk in November 2013.
Applin’s music is largely straightforward and sweet in its structure and as such, soprano Charlotte Wakefield’s crystalline clarity is perfect as its lead exponent. As Chloe, the young woman conflicted between a desire to explore the wider world but also to maintain fidelity to her beloved village, she’s wryly amusing in observing the minutiae of ‘Country Life’ and moving in the affecting emotional swirl of ‘They’re Only Dreams’ and ‘The White Elephant Stall’.
Applin and Susannah Pearse’s book and lyrics also tread a worthy but well-worked path, hardly ground-breaking in its musings on rural English life but finding comic depth beyond the stereotypes and compassion beneath the chequered tablecloths. Chloe’s relationship with Haydn Oakley’s Robert is again sweetly done, from ‘Ok’ to ‘Maybe in a Decade’, they’re a couple it is easy to invest in even as a love triangle gently threatens it.
Things come a little more unstuck in the full company numbers – Kelly-Anne Gower leads the title track with vim and vigour but later tracks ‘The Light of Love’ and finale ‘It Takes A Village’ seem a little bit messy, despite the sterling contributions from the amateur chorus, Applin doesn’t quite marshal all her elements into these climactic numbers with the same emotional force as the solos and duets. Still, it is an enjoyable musical for the most part and an ideal choice for amateur companies one would have thought.