Britain’s most prolific theatre company hits home with Redcoats – a giddy musical comedy diving into the history of a seaside institution. He might not have recognised the selfie stick, but it’s tempting to think that Billy Butlin would have been tickled pink by this rapid-fire excursion through the history of his red-blazered world. On a portable stage amid the runner beans and apple trees and with a newly-built communal hut serving Thai food, this was high-quality entertainment for everyone’s delight, to paraphrase the entrepreneur.
Knobbly knees, glamorous grannies, singalongs, Skegness and a swimsuit competition with live-wire Joshua Considine (below, centre) playing every part – it all tumbled out at St Mary’s Allotments in Leamington Spa.
Interweaving songs, narration, many a joke and some moments of levity, they skipped through the chronology but made it all about the people, the plot revolving around a swansong retirement show for Aunty Lyn, played by Rachel Benson.
Laurel and Hardy made a hat-shedding appearance, as did Marlene Dietrich and Gracie Fields, the cast barely pausing for seaside rock as they traced the Butlins dream. The cast, completed by Christopher Arkeston and Elizabeth Robin (both above), have clearly gelled on their mammoth UK tour, with whirlwind costume and character changes.
Writer and lyricist Nick Ahad drew on his own childhood memories to create Redcoats, and it was an affectionate take that nevertheless considered the holiday chain’s relevance in the digital age. The selfie stick’s appearance came about as a result of the central tension in the plot, where Butlins has to consider how to tell its own story in the age of Instagram, Facebook and Vevo. Not quite what Billy, or Lyn, envisaged!
On a warm evening, with rain clouds at bay, Mikron played this old-meets-new theme with a quick-draw, charming and touching jaunt that sparkled in every aspect.
It marked an eighth visit to the allotments by Mikron, on their annual national tour, and they arrived in time for the first public use of a communal hut, which served Thai food, cake and refreshments. Around 120 people attended the performance on Thursday evening, also made possible by a National Lottery-funded car park refurbishment.
The resort’s slogan, Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight, was originally a line by Shakespeare, but here it was a travelling theatre company that lived up to it.