A Blitz-bruised London becomes a playground for the rebellious and fierce in Teddy – the latest show to grace the stage at Nuffield Southampton Theatre‘s Campus venue.
This award-winning show takes us back to 1956; to Elephant and Castle, London, to be exact, where we join Josie and Ted on a raucous night they will surely never, ever forget.
This is not your usual musical. There are only six cast members, four of whom form the band ‘Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts’, who provide a bold and brash backing track to the entire performance. The rest of the show is simply Ted (George Parker) and Josie (Molly Chesworth) taking us on a late-night adventure through the streets of the capital on one Saturday night, 62 years ago.
The cast may indeed be small, but it’s perfectly formed and each member packs a real punch. George and Molly are vibrant and unstoppable as the lead pair, both giving fantastic and unfaltering performances. The duo literally never stop, taking on character after character and narrating the entire story with dark humour, passion and superb skill.
The on-stage band gave the show a really authentic feel, too, with an extremely talented bunch making music to take the story forward. The beat and rhythm created, ranging from some of the biggest hits from the decade to some catchy original songs by Dougal Irvine, weave the show together from beginning to end with true rock’n’roll style. It took a lot of restraint to stop myself from dancing away in my seat.
The story itself is gripping, with twists and turns I never saw coming. What starts off as a fairly innocent story of two young people looking for a fun night out turns into something reminiscent of the risks and rebellions they watch in the cinema that very night. As Johnny Valentine himself warns, when wishing upon stars, you want to make sure you’re wishing on the right ones, and I’m not so sure that Josie chooses wisely.
What really stood out to me was how the story was narrated by Josie and Ted; the scene was set and the story told with such vivid imagery. The entire show, music aside, was incredibly poetic and formed almost entirely from spoken word-like speech; beautifully written lines were performed with equal skill and it created something very special, like nothing I’d seen before.
I was enamoured with the way the show was written and with each line spoken by the cast and found myself hanging on every word. From describing the scene around them, to bringing in other characters, while pairing dark humour and wit with intensity and tragedy, it was an unexpectedly emotional performance.
The set and the costumes were brilliant too; I loved the live music, the different levels of the stage, the classic 1950s adverts on the walls and the simplicity of the main set. I left the theatre with outfit envy, too; every character looked great (and I wanted to steal Josie’s ensemble to wear for myself!)
Josie and Ted are fierce, desperate and roguish. They steadily become an almost-infamous duo; a Bonnie and Clyde of their own little world, just looking for a good time, a way out and a night with Johnny Valentine.
This show slowly takes a dark turn, perfectly encapsulating the damaged world of post-war London – a world ripe for change – in just a few hours.
Teddy is clever, sharp, gripping and poetic; an unusual twist with a little grit and grime and a good dose of nostalgia thrown in for good measure. It’s stylish with an edge; just the way the Teddy Boys were.
It’s also just very, very…cool.
Teddy is showing at NST Campus until Saturday 3 March – don’t miss out and book tickets now, or find out more about the musical’s UK tour.
More like this:
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The Shadow Factory – Nuffield Southampton Theatres
Snow White – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Follies – National Theatre Live screening, The Point, Eastleigh
Finding Joy – The Point, Eastleigh
The Addams Family – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
The Play that Goes Wrong – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Funny Girl – The Marlowe Theatre
Pygmalion – Nuffield Southampton Theatres
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