Lyceum Theatre

IF you’ve been feeling glum this week then cheer yourself up and get on down to the Lyceum for this show should put a smile on your face and get you dancing in the aisles.

If not, there’s no hope!

Buddy Holly was one of the most important figures in rock n roll and in a brief life he produced an almost unequalled series of hits and songs: That’ll Be the Day, Peggy Sue, True Love Ways, Words of Love and many more.

He pioneered the concept of singer-songwriter, laid down the basic format of a rock band – lead singer, guitar, bass and drums – and introduced chords and sounds that are now commonplace in rock.

He also broke the mould. Pop stars no longer had to look pretty. His trademark heavy-rimmed glasses paved the way for stars from Freddy and the Dreamers and Hank Marvin to Jarvis Cocker.

Buddy, written and produced by Alan Janes in 1989 and seldom off the stage since, is a feel-good musical which strings the hits together in a comic strip-style plot.

Glen Joseph is an engaging Buddy Holly who looks reasonably like the star, although the voice is not always accurate and the production ruins one or two of the songs. He’s a pretty mean guitarist, though.

But overall this is a lively, colourful, infectious, foot-tapping show which gets the audience on its feet. By the end they were all having a Johnny B Goode time.

Martin Dawes

The Sound of Heavy Rain

Crucible Studio

THIS is the third and final play in the Roundabout season, bringing together the four excellent actors who appeared in the first two dramas for a world premiere of Penelope Skinner’s work.

We meet hard-drinking London private eye Dabrowski (Andrew Sheridan) late one rainy night when a distraught and dowdy secretary Maggie Brown (Maia Alexander) bursts into his office, begging him to look for her missing friend, the glamorous nightclub singer, Foxie O’Hara (Kate O’Flynn).

So all very Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, to the extent that Dabrowski admits that he has fallen into the habit of narrating his life.

During the search for Foxie, the audience is led through twists and turns as Dabrowski wonders if the eccentric Miss Brown has imagined her friend or if she has fallen prey to a killer. A bag “as big as a human body” toted by Maggie’s boss Graham (Alistair Cope) adds to the mystery in Hitchcock ‘Maguffin’ style.

The truth is funny and sad in equal measures and the play explores loneliness, love and lost love and the dreams that people build to cope with the emptiness of their lives.

The audience is kept off balance by the actors who use the whole of the new Roundabout auditorium, sometimes to a neck-twisting degree.

Several musical numbers add glamour and add to a dream-like atmosphere where you wonder what is real or imaginary.

This is particularly true of the ending, where Dabrowski shows just how close he is to falling apart in a beautifully acted monologue, just before we are swept along by an upbeat disco finale.

James Grieve paced his direction very well.

Julia Armstrong