Music to drink beer by

Vince and Teena

Satin ‘n’ Steel

Lichfield Garrick

*****

VINCE Steel is a club singer, always was and always will be - a talent more suited to Tetley’s than Tattinger.

He drives round and round the Northern cltomub circuit in a clapped out van with a collection of backing tracks singing between bingo sessions, darts matches and stand-up, amid the stale aroma of beer, Babycham and chicken in a basket - the real Vince Steel Experience.

He had his dreams of course, still has, in a career constantly fuelled by ever more unrealistic hopes of hitting the big time, but like him and his once rugged good looks, something to appeal to the ladies, they are growing old and faded.

And then along comes Teena, spelt with two EEs to make it a bit different - Vince’s idea – a Polish immigrant cleaner who entered a karaoke contest Vince was hosting in the hopes of winning £50.

Vince Steel, (Tom Roberts), is a pub and club singer struggling through life on a borderline somewhere between sleaze and smooth, always chasing the big chance which is always just around the next corner

She didn't win the contest but she is young, pretty and has a great voice; through her Vince sees his own salvation, finally he has found his ticket to the big time. Put your hands together for the new international singing sensation - Satin ‘n’ Steel.

After a little persuasion, mainly in the form of a promise of cash, our new stars are born, or at least conceived.

She talented and vulnerable, although growing up fast in the less glamorous haunts of show business, he is supposedly leading them to the top but in reality hanging on to her for grim death. She is both his ride to stardom . . . and his cover,

Vince is bi-sexual, and batting for both sides in the shrinking, drinking world of working men’s clubs would hardly be seen as a boost to his modest career if it were widely known.

So an attractive girl as a partner means it's lucky old Vince rather than mucky old Vince in the eyes of the punters as Satin ‘n’ Steel take the clubs, and a North Sea ferry in November, by storm, or perhaps more accurately, by squall.

It is a long road to Vegas, New York or even London and along the way there are lies, secrets and finally betrayal.

Walsall actor Tom Roberts gives his Vince just the right level of smarmy charm with his Brylcreemed, middle-aged Elvis hair, black shiny shirts - silk or polyester, you choose – and a hint of old fashioned bad boy rocker when he sings.

His Vince revels in the glamour of showbiz - the beer crates in the dressing room cum storeroom are just him paying his dues for the big time which is always just around the corner.

Kilke John, who is well known in musical theatre in her native Holland, gives us a sad Teena - with two EEs - she ckilkean sing but is a reluctant recruit to Vince’s dream, and when the bigger time, it was never going to be big, does come along she realises it was not her dream she was following but Vince’s.

Writer Amanda Whittington revised her 2005 play for this production, updating references and evolving scenes from the 2007 Lichfield Garrick Rep production, which also starred Tom, and some of the songs have changed.

Teena Satin, Teena - with two EEs - played by Kilke John, who gives up her cleaning job to feed Vince's dream of the big time only to find disappointment and betrayal

The songs though are the thing. This is a play rather than a musical, but it is a play about a singing duo and there is a trip down memory lane with every performance. Both are good singers, as shown by solos such as Tom’s final Don’t go breaking my heart I and Kilke’s splendid Wind Beneath my Wings.

But it is in the duets where they excel with a quite lovely blend of voices in songs such as Islands in the stream and Time after Time.

Director Gareth Tudor Price has kept thinks moving along nicely and there are some fine little touches as we see the relationship between the two growing and then faltering in the final betrayal.

Tom and Kilke set up their own Roberts and John Productions a year ago and this is their first show, now midway through a Northern tour, setting the bar remarkable high for their next venture to follow. To 25-04-15.

Roger Clarke

21-04-15

Satin ‘n’ Steel heads to Cheltenham April 1and 2, Scarborough , Middlesbrough, Helmsley, Barnsley, Richmond, Howden, Beverley, Horsham, Durham, Bridlington and Chesterfield.

http://robertsandjohn.uk/productions/ 

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