Theatre review by Julia Pattison: The Twilight Robbery musical at 41 Monkgate, York

Twilight Robbery at 41 Monkgate, York.
Twilight Robbery at 41 Monkgate, York.

Musical: Twilight Robbery

Venue: 41 Monkgate, York

Review by: Julia Pattison

This is a new musical, still in development, so I was honoured to be invited along to review a work-in-progress.

Director and Choreographer Nik Briggs has an infectious enthusiasm when working on a new musical, and this reflects in the show; Twilight Robbery is a classic musical farce for modern times and is packed with laughs, touching drama and plenty of catchy tunes.

Twilight Robbery is a new musical comedy by two young graduates, Joseph McNeice (book and lyrics) and Matthew Spalding (music) who met at the University of York and have been working on this, their first musical for over two years.

There’s nothing quite like getting your work out there, even if you’re not sure it’s ready, and gauging the reactions from the audience; yes, it still needs a bit of fine tuning, but I think they’ve got a hit on their hands!

The cast were on top form at the performance I watched, as was the excellent live band, led by Musical Director Jessica Douglas.

There have been plenty of situation comedies set in Residential Homes for the Elderly, but a musical is a whole new interesting angle, and it worked; underneath the laughter was a real poignancy, and respect for the elderly, shining a spotlight on their sense of adventure and mischief…Age Is Just A Number as the song and dance number so aptly showed.

I had a lump in my throat at the flashbacks of young Harry and Joyce, then during the dialogue between elderly Joyce, and the youthful ghost of Harry. Nick Purdie was superb in the role, his earnestness and encouragement, completely convincing, making you want to shout out, “Come on Joyce, you can do this!”

It was great to see such a mixture of ages in the cast; Josh Benson (Nick) and Finn East (Neil) were on hilarious, sparkling form as the gormless teenage duo, with Maggie Smales (Joyce) Andrew Caley (Frank) and Loretta Lynch (Patty) sparkling in performance like the diamond they were trying to steal; stellar acting that spoke volumes about refusing to let self–doubt (or patronising people) spoil the quality of your life, however old you are.

A very witty script, particularly in the first act; the Bingo number interjections were perfectly timed with the on-going dialogue, and had us all helpless with laughter. Tracey Rea was in her element as ”panto villain” Barbara, and came into her own in the second half of the show, particularly in her knock out musical number; Candy From A Baby.

If I had any criticism, it would be to tighten up the second act; I feel it lost its way at times. The prison scene lacked pace, and the running gag of Jayne (Louise Henry) being tied up in the cupboard was dragged out too much.

However, this was an original, entertaining musical that shows great potential. The residents of Twilight Towers may have arthritic legs, but this show has got legs that’ll run and run.