Real name:Janice Connolly
The Razzle Presents: The Working Man's Club at Latitude 2010
Having reinterpreted the office party for an entertainingly immersive show at the Barbican Centre and Edinburgh Fringe, the same team have now had a bash at the working men’s club; an atmosphere that’s surely ripe for reinvention.
This first outing at Latitude has a marvellous spirit, but doesn’t go nearly far enough in creating an all-round experience beyond the turns on stage, huge fun though these undoubtedly are.
Chris Green – the man behind Tina C and Dame Ida Barr – here channels the spirit of Eighties comic Duncan Norvelle to play compere Derek Diamond, a man with an intriguingly hinted-at back story that involved an injured child and the need to change his stage name from Daz Vegas. As you might expect, the character’s well-formed, and Green sets the perfect tone for the night, inviting audience member to make use of the pool table and buy tickets for the meat raffle.
His frequent collaborator Ursula Martinez plays Dazzle’s deranged stalker Maureen, with a surprising twist for anyone not aware of the signature move that defines her career. Also in the line-up is Australian circus performer Jess Love, here performing an inventive, wonderfully witty – but all-too brief – burlesque turn.
The night, though, belongs to Mrs Barbara Nice, the housewife superstar of the North West, utterly at home in an environment that could have been built for her. She banters affectionately with the crowd, leads the singalongs and generally celebrates the joys of life, however modest. Grabbing a bargain at TK Maxx is source of infinite pride for this middle-aged mum, as warm and sunny as a fortnight in Benidorm.
In fact, this pretty much was the Barbara Nice show, with a few side attractions thrown in. But you can see how there’s plenty of potential for this fine idea to be extended into a whole word the audience can be absorbed into, entirely separate from the Phoenix Nights route of cheesily bad entertainers.