The Vaults, London – until 3 June 2017
This musical might celebrate the 1950s and post-war Britain but its undertones of violence and the Bonnie and Clyde-type relationship at its centre highlights the darker elements of the decade…
Taking place in Elephant and Castle one Saturday night in 1956, Teddy and Josie are about to go on a journey, pushing the boundaries of their newly found freedom that will see them going to any lengths to have a good time – and to see their favourite singer Johnny Valentine live.
Teddy is a surprisingly dark but engaging musical that highlights effectively the long-lasting effects that the Second World War had on the younger generation, causing a sense of rebellion and change of attitude in society as seen through the eyes of Josie and Teddy.
Written by Tristan Bernays, the language throughout is wonderfully vivid and rhythmic, really capturing the audience’s attention and imagination effectively. This is particularly seen in moments in which violence and aggression are used – such as when Teddy and Josie rob a shop to get the money to see Johnny Valentine live. It draws intense focus onto the pair’s attitude and disillusion about the world that they are living in, to the point where they don’t care about breaking rules or the law.
Eleanor Rhode’s production really captures the spirit of the era, thanks to the live music provided by Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts (bravo to Andrew Gallow, Freya Parks, Harrison White and Dylan Wood) before, during and after the show, as well as the lively choreography provided by Tom Jackson Greaves. But the production also captures how people were still trying to recover from the war and wondering what to do now the conflict is over – as highlighted when Teddy asks Josie what her dream is, to which her response is a look of complete bewilderment and confusion which is how many young people must have felt at the time.
Throughout, the audience is intensely aware that as much as the pair are trying to grow up quickly and live for excitement and danger – they are still vulnerable in their own ways as proven when they are both caught by the police and locked up it shows their naivety that they aren’t as grown up as they thought when they reflect on their home lives.
Holding the show together, Molly Chesworth and George Parker both provide supremely confident and engaging performances as not only Josie and Teddy but a whole host of characters. Molly Chesworth excels as the overly confident and eager Josie, giving her character plenty of attitude when it comes to dealing with unpleasant situations but nicely contrasted with a hint of vulnerability when it comes to dealing with her true emotions – highlighted in the slow dance scene with Teddy. Meanwhile, George Parker as Teddy has plenty of swagger but still very much in touch with his emotions as seen over his concern for his mother towards the end of the show. Together, there is a nice chemistry to this Bonnie and Clyde style relationship that keeps the audience hooked.
Teddy is a surprisingly gritty musical that knows how to pack a punch and is equally entertaining as it is engaging that literally leaves you dancing from the theatre.