The Little British Empire

My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen - for you delectation, curiosity and amusement, please welcome to the stage The Repertorie Room. I thank you.

And if you haven't twigged already, the song list of The Little British Empire is very much in the music hall tradition, although our toastmaster today points out that we're in the bar of The Old Bull & Bush. By some odd coincidence that's also the opening number. The programme includes well-known classics like The Boy In The Gallery, For Me And My Gal and Good-Bye-ee - bad sadly for anyone that was hoping for a selection of songs from The Good Old Days, there's precious little else.

Part of the problem is that they're trying to create an atmosphere in a very tricky space. To start with there's a dirty great pillar three feet in front of the stage, and daylight is seeping in all around the black cloth - destroying any illusion we're having an “evening” down the boozer.

I was a bit confused by location. At first I thought we were in London, complete with Dick-Van-Dyke Cock-ker-nee accents, but then we were in a Glasgow pub. A further contradiction is caused by the plumy voices in song, when what this material really calls for is a bit of Omp-Pah-Pah. It also must be said that the pianist was none too subtle in his delivery - bashing the piano like a bathhouse whore.

I enjoyed some of the songs, but there are just too many niggles to really rate this production. Given a bit of stage direction and a better space, they would improve dramatically.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

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