Well, the main thing was, of course, ‘Billy Elliot – The Musical’, of which more later. The visit was a Christmas present from my dear relatives L and A. Last year, seasoned readers may recall, they took me to ‘War Horse’, so my expectations weren’t high, because that show takes some beating. I’d seen the Billy film, years ago, and cordially disliked it for its simplicity and near-mawkishness; and the music is by Sir Elton, of whom I can’t admit to being the world’s greatest admirer (or even in the top million).
Bessie, the heiress of last year’s satnav Florence, did a better job than her mother. We were told less often not to turn prematurely off the M4, and she guided us flawlessly through the labyrinths of Knightsbridge (the only Tube station, incidentally, to contain nine consonants in a single word) and Chelsea to Victoria Coach Station. Entering the car park, I was delighted by the message on the screen of one of the ticket dispensers: “Sorry, This Machine Is Sleeping.” Also by the platoon of life-sized cut-out construction workers in visibility jackets and hardhats, who guided us across the roads, bearing arrowed placards saying things like “Please wait until you see the green man”, to the Victoria Palace Theatre.
I hadn’t been there before, which isn’t surprising as I’ve only been to about eight West End theatres in my life. It’s well worth a look, a flamboyant Edwardian excess complete with red velvet and gilded frontages to the dress circle and royal box. My only criticism is that Edwardian audiences were obviously expected to have narrower bums than us. (Not a problem for me, but I did observe a few arriving patrons and wondering how exactly they were going to take their seats.)
Anyway, the curtain rose (or rather, didn’t quite: go see), and I was gripped. I’m not a theatre critic, so let me just say that nearly three hours have never seemed so short. Here’s my four word review (one of which is a direct quote from the script): IT IS F*CKING BRILLIANT!