in search of happiness
Gilmore a Hit in ‘Follow That Girl’
R. B. Marriott
You may think that “Follow That Girl”, the
new musical by Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds at the Vaudeville,
is charming and gently witty, novel, fresh and gay, tuneful and
pleasantly coloured. On
the other hand, if you loathed “Salad Days”, you will probably
consider it even more saturated in sticky sentiment, naïve to the
point of vacuity, repetitive and aimless.
© Theatre World
The careless rapture of “Salad Days” has
not been caught again; indeed, how could it be when Mr Slade and
Miss Reynolds are so obviously striving to repeat a formula?
They are still in search of happiness, or rather sending
young people on the search, with a jiggling sort of dance to help
them on their way. In
fact, every one chases somebody in a story set in Victorian
Battersea. The search
for lost people, as well as for happiness, is again like that in
“Salad Days”, with a pause now and again for a little satirical
sketch which does not properly belong to the development.
In this case, mermaids in the London Zoo, supermarket
shopping and British railways and London transport are the targets.
“Follow That Girl” opens with a young
author, Tom, discussing his new show with his sweetheart, Victoria.
We are brought into closer contact with Tom’s work by the
simple process of having it played before our eyes - which is the
show itself, the author cropping up now and again to link a scene or
point an issue, but otherwise appearing as a Victorian policeman who
was stolen from his parents, years before while they were shopping
© Plays And Players
An atmosphere suggestive of Victorian Battersea
is called up very well, Hutchinson Scott’s settings being a
considerable asset, and a story of Victorian sentiment, commerce and
domesticity is cleverly worked out to provide some light-hearted
satire as well as a series of effective situations.
The chase and the search for happiness keep the story
together, not to mention moving; otherwise there is no real link
between the episodes.
Julian Slade’s music is by no means as fresh
and unexpected as in “Salad Days” but is always tuneful, and
three songs, which might become hits outside the show certainly make
a strong impression in the theatre.
These are “Follow That Girl”, “Solitary Stranger” and
“Victoria! Victoria!” Mr
Slade mocks the Victorian ballad delightfully, and his music
pervades the show throughout. A
haunting quality emerges which, if there had been magic in the
writing of the show, would have given it a distinction all its own.
As Tom, Peter Gilmore has a long and difficult
part, at least for a musical, which could easily become boring or
silly. Mr Gilmore plays
it with resourcefulness and style, sings very well, and has just the
right sort or romantic appeal.
Marion Grimaldi is amusing and charming as an artist’s wife,
sorely plagued by the Pre-Raphaelite influence, and as the artist
Newton Blick gives his small supply of material wit, and point, even
making something of long periods when he has nothing to do.
Susan Hampshire as Victoria rather strains at
her imitation of a mid-Victorian miss, but does her vast amount of
trotting in the chase most efficiently.
James Cairncross, Philip Guard, Robert McBain and Patricia
Routledge also help things along well, while Denis Carey’s
direction appears to be in complete harmony with the intention of
© The Stage and Television Today
24 March 1960