REVIEW – ‘Me and My Girl’ starring Matt Lucas at the Chichester Festival Theatre

Matt Lucas stars in a revived version of classic British musical ‘Me and My Girl’. Currently on a short run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, BlogtorWho saw the actor, previously seen as Nardole in Doctor Who, deliver a sublime performance in a superb 5 star show.

‘Me and My Girl’ is a British Musical from the 1930’s. It was revived in the mid-1980’s with a new production and fresh script from Stephen Fry. The show proved to be a huge hit. Stars of the original London cast were Robert Lindsay, of ‘Citizen Smith’ and ‘My Family’ notoriety, and Emma Thompson, yes THAT Dame Emma Thompson. After a successful opening in London’s West End, the production moved to Broadway. The American audience also took to the show.

In the UK ‘Me and My Girl’ won two Olivier Awards including Best New Musical of 1985. For context, the show that would win that award the following year was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Phantom of the Opera’. Stateside the lead actors Robert Lindsay and Maryann Plunkett, who had replaced Thompson, picked up Tony Awards for their roles. Back in the UK, Sally was later played by Jessica Martin shortly after her role as Magz in Doctor Who story ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’.

‘Me and My Girl’ is a show perhaps most recognised for the songs, ‘The Sun Has Got It’s Hat On’ and ‘The Lambeth Walk’. Once again the catchy melodies are present with Matt Lucas in the lead role of Bill Snibson, a London barrow boy who suddenly becomes Earl Hareford. As you might tell from that setup the central theme is the British class system. A cockney from Lambeth is thrust into the world of the blue bloods and upper class. Unsurprisingly, there is a clash but ultimately those divisions are put aside in a joyful conclusion.

The Cast

Recently Doctor Who fans will have seen Matt Lucas as Nardole helping the Twelfth Doctor through his regeneration. On stage in Chichester, Lucas has travelled back in time to the 1930’s. His exuberant energy, skill at physical comedy and witty delivery, plus more than capable vocals, draw the eye of the audience throughout. When on stage Lucas is thoroughly engaging but he is part of a true ensemble effort.

Caroline Quentin, of Jonathan Creek, Men Behaving Badly and so much more, plays the Duchess of Dene. Whilst she is convincing as an upper class Duchess, it is impossible for her to hide that mischievous twinkle in her eye. Another former Doctor Who alumni appearing is Clive Rowe, Morvin Van Hoff in ‘Voyage of the Damned’. Playing Sir John Tremayne, his chemistry with Quentin’s Duchess is delightful. Alex Young is also fantastic as Bill’s girl Sally. Her performance of ‘Once You Lose Your Heart’ is a particular goosebumps-inducing moment.

Overall, it is a superb show, leaving the audience humming the tunes as they head home. No doubt those tunes will also be in their minds for days and weeks to come.

Sadly, ‘Me and My Girl’ concludes this weekend in Chichester. However, a transfer back to London’s West End remains a possibility. Fingers crossed it does because this brilliant show deserves to be seen by the fans of Theatreland for the first time since the early 1990’s. Hopefully those fans will also be treated to Matt Lucas’ supreme performance that has delighted those in Chichester.

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Bedwyr Gullidge
Assistant Director (uncredited) on Doctor Who episodes ‘Dark Water/Death in Heaven’, ‘Last Christmas’, 'The Return of Doctor Mysterio' and ‘Thin Ice’. A fan and collector since 6 years of age having watched Doctor Who repeats on BBC2. Equally enthusiastic about Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Lucky enough to own original costumes worn by Freema Agyeman, John Barrowman and Elisabeth Sladen. Author of a book chronicling the history of Doctor Who exhibitions coming soon from Telos Publishing.

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