Hijinx Theatre, UK Tour
Reviewer Jon Holliday for The Stage
Despite Arts Council of Wales cuts that have forced several long-established companies to close, the slimmed-down Hijinx carries on in fine style, as evidenced by this latest presentation. Glenys Evans’ new play is set in a seaside town in the thirties where the concert party is battling to stay afloat in the face of competition from both cinemas and hippodrome star attractions.
Ruthless actor/manager Gus pins his box office hopes on the arrival of a fading variety songstress, Florry Labelle, but she has pressing problems of her own - alcohol and a dependant brother. Well, that’s show business.
Eloise Williams sings with winning charm as Florry, evoking nostalgic memories of music hall days. Gareth Wyn Griffiths as put-upon Jimmy Pickles has some painful I-say-I-say routines to mess up, while his efforts on ukulele and piano provide real highlights. Adam Timms as Gus is every bit the melodramatic villain, both on and off stage - his Jekyll and Hyde spot a cameo to savour.
Gareth Clark is touchingly effective as Florry’s Down’s syndrome brother Baby, well matched by Andrew Tadd as jack-of-all-trades stagehand Ralph. Though there is much to laugh at and enjoy, the social issues surrounding those with learning difficulties, both as performers and in society generally, are faced unflinchingly.
The musical director is James Williams, with set and costumes designed by Mary Drummond. Old Hands tours to more than 30 venues across Wales and England.