Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

Tristan Bernays’ script and lyrics combine with Dougal Irvine’s original music to produce “Teddy”, which opened at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds last night for its six night run before moving on to Southampton.

You would be forgiven for assuming that this was another jukebox musical.  But no, this is a Shakespearian tragedy with a rock’n’roll backing track and just three larger than life characters on stage.

From the moment we meet Josie & Teddy we just know it isn’t going to end well.  I mean – there is no respect for authority, those clothes they wear and that ever present god-dam music – rock and roll the Americans call it, bloody racket more like!   Sorry, I became the ordinary 1950s man on the Clapham Omnibus for a moment.

We meet Josie (Molly Chesworth) and Teddy (George Parker) as they prepare for a teenage Saturday night out in 50s London.  The style of delivery is quickly set as Josie and her father argue about her going out – Chesworth playing both parts with just the slightest change of pose to delineate the characters.

Throughout, they both execute this technique with a myriad of characters, none better than when they both interact with Sully and his two henchmen.  Their speed of delivery and timing a joy to watch.

But what of the third actor on stage?  Not one playing multiple parts but four individuals playing, possibly, the most significant part – the band that all the teenagers want to see!  Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts (whose debut album was available to purchase in the foyer!) did a very good job of setting the scene musically. Bernays’ cleverly conceived original lyrics had you singing along as if these were well known songs.

Dylan Wood plays the Elvis-esque lead singer, Harrison White doubles as lead guitarist, pianist and musical director, Andrew Gallow is no mean drummer and Freya Parks keeps them all in line with her sassy no nonsense lines and bass playing.

As with all good stories our heroes, tragic though they may be, get to see their musical idles play live on stage.  They discover the joys of the ‘slow dance’ as they snog to ‘Blue Without You’ – they are living their dreams.  “And what is wrong with dreaming?” Teddy asks.  “Waking up.” Replies Josie.

Despite knowing that none of this would end well, the end still comes unexpectedly.  After the noise of rapidly delivered lines blended with the music of rock’n’roll the end is abrupt and quiet.

The show runs at Bury until Saturday 24th February but if you can’t make that it reappears at Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre on 19th March.  If 50s rock’n’roll is your thing go and enjoy the original music.  If you enjoy fast paced, well delivered dialogue then go for the play.  If you like both, well then, that’s a bonus.