|Valley of Song at Finborough Theatre|
|Nick Hennegan praises a revival of R C Sherriff's subtle Christmas story
The Finborough has been punching above its weight recently with lost classics such as RC Sherriff’s White Carnation and here we have a World Premiere of a new musical by Ivor Novello. Except we don't really. Ivor Novello died suddenly of a heart-attack and left his Valley of Song musical unfinished.
And it sort of shows. Set in the pre-first world war Welsh Valleys of Novello’s birth, not much really happens. The local valley big-wig, Nan Brewster (Sandy Walsh) is celebrating her supermarket’s 25th anniversary and the choir-master, David Evans, (charmingly played by Linford Hydes) is pining in vain for a radiant young soprano – called, Lily. Of the Valley. Get it?
Lilly yearns for a world beyond the valleys though and when she gets the chance to travel to Venice with Nan she takes it, leaving David high and dry. It takes a disastrous romantic encounter with a dodgy Italian count and the alarming prospect that David might not make it back from the trenches for Lilly to learn that home is perhaps best and that maybe the boy-next-door isn’t so bad after all.
And that’s sort of it. The setting and the costumes are all a bit beige too. After his death, the musical was completed by numerous Novello cronies and it takes a reprise of his “Keep The Home Fires Burning” to throw his missing genius starkly into focus.
Having said that though, Valley of Song is not without it’s charm or emotional resonance. The comedy was somewhat stilted by a sudden cast replacement, but it’s a sweet piece with some fine tunes.
The Chorus sing magnificently and the bright eyed Lily (Katy Treharne) is a trilling delight. It’s not a work of Ivor Novello genius and it’s perhaps a little overlong, but it’s a completely enjoyable night out nevertheless.
Finborough Theatre's booking line is 0844 847 1652, and online booking here.
December 6, 2013