Review: Bad Girls the Musical, Union Theatre

“You won’t get that out a book on prison procedure
When those suits get caught on the hook, that’s when they need ya”

Bad Girls ran for eight years on ITV, covering the whole gamut of women’s prison storylines from the sublime to the senseless, and now the women of HMP Larkhall live on in Bad Girls the Musical, written by original creators Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus with music and lyrics by Kath Gotts. Taking many of the characters and fashioning its own story from a range of plotlines across the lifetime of the show, Will Keith’s production for the Union makes for an effective translation from screen to stage.

Perhaps naturally, given the size of the 17-strong company and the number of introductions that thus need to be made (even for those familiar with the TV show), the main thrust of the story takes a little time to come into focus. The corrupt practices of prison officer Jim Fenner, fond of doling out privileges in return for sexual favours, eventually crystallises the motives of the diverse cast of inmates but there’s also the slow burning relationship between lifer Nikki and reformist governor Helen that adds to a book which may seem slight but is ultimately dramatically satisfying.  Continue reading “Review: Bad Girls the Musical, Union Theatre”

Review: Damn Yankees, Brockley Jack

“Take off your coat, don’t you know you can’t win”

Though the North Americans may call their baseball championship the World Series, it is safe to say that the charms of this particular sport don’t necessarily span the globe and have never really travelled across the ocean (how could it, in the face of rounders). Which might go some way to explaining why Damn Yankees has never managed quite the same level of success as other 1950s musical comedies in theatres here, not least The Pajama Game, also with songs by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, which is about to transfer into the West End after opening in Chichester last year. 

That said, the story is less about flyball pitchers, squeeze plays and home runs and more about obsessions (sporting or otherwise) and the lengths to which people will go to chase dreams. Indeed, it stands as a modern reinterpretation of the Faust legend as couch potato Joe accepts a devilish deal from the mysterious Mr Applegate to become the young and successful baseball player he once dreamed of being, raising eyebrows across town, from his hard-done-by wife Meg to intrepid reporter Gloria. Continue reading “Review: Damn Yankees, Brockley Jack”