Writer: Seiriol Davies
Director: Alex Swift
In the heart of Snowdonia, the town of Milky Peaks has just been nominated for Britain’s Best Town, and the residents are of course pulling out all the stops to ensure the town gets the recognition it deserves… and why wouldn’t it? Especially when the bid is being helmed by generic CIS businessman Alun John and Linda who runs the arts centre is going to put on a showstopping revival of My Fair Lady, but like all good stories nothing is as easy as it could be, and everybody has a secret or two hiding in their closet.
Writer Seiriol Davies has created a musical that doesn’t quite straddle traditional lines (this is no bad thing), its music is as quirky as the storyline, its lyrics bold and refreshing, and more often, than not, lands quite big thoughts and ideas with sharp, focused lyrics. The shape of the show through Alex Swift’s futuristic Greek chorus follows a more traditional trajectory of beginning, middle and end, although considering the way the show plays around musical theatre tropes and cliches this perhaps could have been playfully explored a little differently, however that is a tiny niggle in what is a strong piece of ensemble theatre.
Milky Peaks, opens the new temporary venue at Theatr Clwyd – The Mix, which has a similar vibe to Paines Plough’s touring Roundabout space, so as you can imagine the show has to rely on a clever design both through lighting and set, and the production nails things on both accounts. Janet Birds, movable slate rock structured set, hides plenty of surprises but also allows the action to be seen clearly from all angles, while Kevin Treacy’s lighting design utilises small cycloramas around the space to bring a sense of atmosphere to proceedings.
The cast are uniformly strong; Davies’ lovable Dewi is a fireball of small-town naivety struggling to come to terms with his own insecurities and identity. Matthew Blake is larger than life as the pickled drag queen Ms Pariah Carey – as bitter and self-obsessed as the name eludes. Tanya Bridgeman is excellent as Alun John, by gender-bending the role, we clearly see the toxic masculine traits of the character amplified beautifully. Lisa Jen Brown balances the needs and desires of Mother with a stoic sense of strength while Sophie Winter’s portrayal of art centre manager Linda is a real hoot.
As the far-right ‘Britain’s Best’ leader Rhombus, Miriam O’Brien is excellent and brings plenty to like and dislike to the character. Some of the shows best meta-moments come from Dylan Townley as the Wall, being able to sharply observe proceedings from the piano also ensures he has the strongest satirical bite.
Milky Peaks, challenges perspectives from almost every direction. It deals with topics that will be contentious subject matter in some of the rural towns the show will be visiting, it challenges people’s perspectives on what musical theatre can be and it makes you, the audience challenge your own thoughts and opinions on what is and isn’t important when it comes to community.
Runs until 22 April 2022 and then tours