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Dancing In The Dark - A celebration of the lives of the people of Croydon in World War II

Review by David Munro

DANCING in the Dark tells the story of the war as experienced by the people of Croydon. The authors, Jenny Lee and John McNab, have taken true life stories and incidents which are narrated or acted out by four young actors accompanied by a pianist.

Coherence is accomplished by focusing on four fictional Croydonians - Mavis (Sonia Beck), Ethel (Sophie Russell), Bill (Simon Balfour) and Arthur (Marco Williamson).

They slip in and out of these characters portraying, amongst others, pilots, music hall entertainers, other local characters whenever necessary, interspersing the episodes with popular songs.

This revue format suits the theme admirably and manges to create an illusion of wartime life without taking it too seriously, softening the edges of some of the harsher realities of wartime life illustrated.

Their accompanist, Sue Appelby, apart from singing also takes part in some of the episodes and the five, together with props concealed in wooden crates scattered round the bare stage, create a passable portrait of life in the war in so far as it affected the man in the street.

The director, Mehrdad Seyf, keeps the show moving at a spanking pace so that the war is over almost before it had begun and something that could have been pretentious and patronising became an amusing illustrated lecture and a credit to all concerned.

I do not know how much longer this show is continuing. It has been touring round Croydon for the last couple of weeks or so as part of Croydon’s remembrance of WW2.

I hope there is an afterlife for it as it is a good little show and deserves a wider audience.

If therefore you see it coming to some hall or theatre near you, try to catch it and find out how, despite everything, the memory of the war can be preserved with good humour and taste.

Dancing In The Dark (A celebration of the lives of the people of Croydon in World War 2).
Written by Jenny Lee and Tom McNab.
Directed – Mehrdad Sayf.
Design – Gasbriella Csarryl-Wills.
Costumes – Caroline Bird.
Musical Director – Sue Appelby.
CAST: Sonia Beck; Sophie Russell; Simon Balfour; Marco Williamson.
Presented by Attic Theatre Company & Croydon Clocktower. Croydon Clocktower, Katherine Street, Croydon, Surrey.
Tuesday, Sept 27, 2005 (and on tour)
Perfs. 3pm & 8pm.
BOX OFFICE: 020 8253 1030

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