Reasons To Be Cheerful (review)

WINGRAVE’S most outrageous resident was arguably the uniquely talented rock geezer, Ian Dury, whose ability to embrace elements of music, anarchy and art ensured that he carved out a niche in British pop culture.

Tuesday, 20th March 2012, 11:35 am

The singer/song-writer and former Luton art teacher never let the limitations of his disability through polio interfere in his music and performances and neither do the disabled actors who brought his songs joyously to life in Reasons To Be Cheerful which played at Watford Palace Theatre last week.

The musical bursts with energy and excitement and is a fitting homage to one of the industry’s great renegades who was a staunch supporter of the Graeae Theatre Company which is taking this great tribute to Dury on tour.

The story, set in 1979, surrounds a young punk called Vinnie, who works in a supermarket with his best mate Colin and who wants to take his dad, who is dying from cancer, to one last Dury gig.

The troubled teenager (a blistering performance from Stephen Lloyd who perfectly captured the mood of the rebellious ‘70s) has problems getting his hands on the tickets but things don’t go according to plan even when they’re in his grasp.

Garry Robson (as Vinnie’s dad, Bill) and John Kelly both do the business sharing lead vocals with a perfect nutter, Robert Hyman, on keyboards and providing the odd manic moment as Uncle ‘arry.

Throughout this Essex urban fairy tale is an playlist of great, gritty songs, performed by this incredibly talented theatre company whose members are both able bodied and disabled.

The entire production is edgy and engaging, if a little rough around the edges, and one of the best modern musicals to emerge in years.

ANNE COX