I don’t like musicals. It’s not that I look down on them with disdain; they’re just not for me. I could make up some intellectual sounding reasons – something along the lines of a song’s ability to compress plot and emotional development into concentrated three minute bursts, often with the potent cheapness of legend, allowing writers to try to get away with not putting plot or emotional development anywhere else – but I would be making it up to sound as if I knew what I was talking about.
But the thing is, the music is by Ray Davies, the story is based on my favourite Kinks song and Mister Davies himself appears in it so I had to go, didn’t I?
People foolish enough to wish for a Kinks jukebox musical would be disappointed - I only recognised Tired of Waiting and the title song – but music used was at times sublime, there was a good mix of styles and some of the songs in pre-rock’n’roll style felt so accurate that I was sure I’d heard them before. I liked the acting and the story but could have done with a lot more character development to really nail down the relationships and tensions within Ray Davies imaginary family. I also felt the need for more specifics about Ray’s made-up youngest older sister Julie. I got a lot of knowing there was something better out there and the determination to get it but little of how she was going to do it.
The idea of the play is that it is the story, as told by Ray Davies, behind the writing of Come Dancing and I didn’t find it entirely convincing. I didn’t think that Ray Davies believed what he was trying to tell us. I didn’t buy the idea that the lyrics of Come Dancing referred to Ray’s tragic imaginary sister Julie when they actually suit the character of another older sister, Brenda, better.
This isn’t perfect but I was won over by the music and the charm of the cast. I still don’t like musicals though