Ah, I always enjoy watching the English parody the French. It’s like imitating your sister, the one you don’t like, behind her back. The same thing happens when common South Easterners play ‘Posh’. Both results, if done well, deliver hyperbolic comedic genius. Despite the title, The Boy Friend, a candy-floss-flavoured musical set in Charleston-era Cote d’Azur, is all about becoming an English Lady while wishing you were actually French, their lassez faire sensibilities far more enticing than the buttoned-up, stiff upper-lippery of the elder generation. You’ve probably seen some variation on the story before – girl’s too rich for boy, girl pretends to be poor, singing, dancing and hijinks ensue! The Boy Friend trades on the principle that Heat has been peddling for yonks – if you don’t have a boyfriend, you’d best pretend to be someone else to get one.
The Brighton Little Theatre lives up to its name by being wee and a show this rompy must leave plenty of space for high kicks and jazz hands. Excellent set and costume design gives the space an Art Deco holiday feel, immediately transporting the audience to a prettier, pastel-bonbon-coloured time. Encased inside this candy-coated exterior is a brace of fine performances, although some more confidently asserted than others; Brighton AmDram stalwart Patti Griffiths is faultless as the floaty Mme Dubonnet while Hannah Clarke’s peppy, plummy Maisie frequently steals scenes with her smirky confidence.
One highlight is ‘It’s Never Too Late to Fall in Love’, where a lecherous sexagenarian Lord Brockhurst (Gerry Wicks) tries to convince doll-faced Dulcie (Bethany Preston) to try something ‘a bit older’ – after all, she sings, ‘the old wine tastes much nicer!’ Funnily enough, one elderly gentlemen took this as encouragement to ask my friend for her picture in the bar – proving once again that some stereotypes have a basis in reality.
The show goes into a slight coma, unfortunately, whenever the romantic leads appear – both Polly and Tony’s voices are drowned out by the small band and while they’re both perfectly adorable, there are moments of mutual hesitation. But dissing this show would be like kicking a puppy – pointless and sad. Sweet, energetic and pacey, it’s all camp as Christmas in Cliff Richard’s dressing room at the Villa Caprice – a perfect intro to top-notch community theatre you should get out and support if the mood takes you.