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Follow That Girl

Slade and reynolds
 in search of happiness

Peter Gilmore a Hit in ‘Follow That Girl’

 By 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, nave 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 in Kensington.

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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 authors.

The Stage and Television Today
24 March 1960


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