Edinburgh Fringe 2019
A Slice of Saturday Night is set in a nightclub where young love, teenage dreams, fashion and music are the order of the day. Watch and cringe as seven teenagers navigate their way through the night under the experienced eye of the club’s owner. The Heather Brothers’ classic that began its life in Brighton.
A Slice of Saturday Night is a musical by The Heather Brothers. I was lucky enough to see a very early version of it in the cityof its birth, where I live, Brighton. I attended this version at the Edinburgh Fringe because I am always keen to see how a musical is interpreted and present in different versions. And this iteration is fun and inventive whilst staying faithful to the original.
What a privilege it was for me to see this particular take on the classic set in a 1960s night club by this young company of talented performers, backed by a tight band!
This is not an easy musical to perform on a fairly small stage but every inch of the Greenside space at Royal Terrace was inhanbited. Though the musical itself hasn’t aged perfectly as our standards of what is acceptable and unacceptable in sexual dynamics, language and behaviour has evolved, A Slice of Saturday night is both a celebration of life in the 1960s as well as an attempt to truthfully depict it. We are taken into a small corner of that era, a night club- The Club Agogo. Yet, as our host Eric “Rubber Legs” Devine points out – it could be any club around that time. And, as adults, we were all seveteen once, and there is much for us all to recognise here, smile at, and occasionally squirm in memory at!
It’s a humourous, touching, shamelessly sentimental piece of musical theatre and it is delivered to an extrmely high standard by the cast and band. They are pretty much note-perfect, confident, together, coordinated and loaded with energy and vocal as well as physical skill. It is quite simply, one of the best versions I have seen, and I have seen a few!
Just one or two trips over the words cannot even begin to disturb the high quality of this performance. The audience (clearly some were friends and family but many were not) clapped along, sighed, whooped,cheered and I witnessed a few grateful tears when the love story unfolded). A simply romantic tale underpins this musical and that always held it together and made it appealing. More ‘song’ than ‘speak’, there are a lot of numbers crammed in and not one fell short. Performances were uniformly impressive, and the ensemble work was stellar. Not one stumble assong flowed into scene then back into song.
I loved every minute of it but also appreciated how well this has been directed, choreographed and delivered, bringing every ounce of talent from he cast. Listen cast – you should be proud of yourself as professional quality top-drawer performers! Banter and set piece comedy routines never faltered. We were immersed in the time and the location and I was sad that a musical running to over an hour didn’t last longer.
Characters were well drawn and realised, dance routines toe-tapping, comedy narration word-tight, clear and put to the full service of a story delivered more in lyric than spoken word.
You might think this musical is now a bit of a historical artifact. Yet, like Grease, it is still regularly revived. And also, like Grease, criticisms of its language and attitudes to sex and gender, have been often successfully rebutted because both this musical and Grease both report on those times, celebrating the nostalgic good, but are not afraid to evoke the warts and all of those times as well. What emerges in the end, and does so very successfully in this production, is an infectious, delightful musical celebration of the 1960s. I think all of these performers have a future in the arts. One of the best musicals I have seen on the Fringe and much better than man musical on much bigger stages in larger venues. Excellent work.