Writer: Charlie Marx
Director: Iain Gordon
Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
Set in a Glasgow schoolhouse, as the class of ’69 prepare to hang up their blazers and wave goodbye to their teachers, Summer of 69 is a narrative-light, surprisingly raunchy comedy that sometimes rides a little too close to the bone but cannot fail to have its audience singing along with some laughs along the way.
With the full set of Pavilion familiar faces in tow on the journey back to the Swinging 60s, the on-stage banter carries an otherwise dry and dated script. Where some jokes are cringe-inducing bad others are frankly offensive and in the post-Yewtree age, teachers lusting over their pupils is a little more than uncomfortable to endure. It’s fair to say Summer of 69 is no family show. It surprises in its colourful use of language and explicit sexual references from the start and throughout.
The hits advertised in the promotional materials are, for the most part, only sampled in this production which is a real missed opportunity. Despite no live song until the close of Act I, it feels rather more a play in Act I and a jukebox musical in Act II. Although this pairing may seem out of place – and it somewhat is – it does manage to leave its audience on a high with a medley of big numbers to close. Wincing at repetitive innuendo is forgotten and the music saves the day.
Pavilion stalwart Dean Park knows his audience and is a safe bet to belt out the hits. Young talent Holly Jack, used to being a schoolgirl in BBCs Waterloo Road, is not given the chance to show her full potential but it is clear that she is one to watch on the Scottish theatre scene. Carole Anders is somewhat lacklustre in her approach to the show but energy is made up for in Nicola Park, who proves herself again to be a real injection of life and hilarity.
Like so many shows at Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre, Summer of 69 is very much in a category of its own. It is endearing in its rejection to follow the norms of the corporate-backed glitzy production. Although most certainly flawed in places, Summer of 69’s decision to end with a selection of hits provides absolution to its dated script.
Runs until 5 August 2017