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The Old Bull & Bush: NODA Review


Author: Gordon Harris

Well the DFLs (Down from London) were certainly out in force at Whitstable’s Playhouse Theatre this evening. Greeted on arrival by the entertaining Useless Pluckers – ukulele players – the mood was set for a good night.

Congratulations to Stage Manager Phil Jordan and his team. The set that greeted us as we took our seats was exemplary. We all knew immediately that we were visiting the The Old Bull and Bush in the months following the end of the ‘War to end all Wars’. Everything was in tune to get you in the right mood of nostalgia at this old East-end boozer!

The gradual populating of the stage was painlessly managed by The Landlord and his gals. The Regulars and EastEnders sang and acted their socks off! Not one of those 34 ‘actors’ failed to maintain their character throughout. What a triumph for them and their Director Peter Bressington and his assistant Caroline Jordan. I must mention the very accomplished pianist, Sheila Holness and drummer Ted Backhouse for working tirelessly throughout, and it was good to see the ‘Useless Pluckers’ reappear on stage.

It was heart-warming that so many of this excellent company had an opportunity to share their talents in this evening of entertainment. The solos, duets and monologues gave everyone a chance to shine. And everyone of them took their opportunity to make us laugh, move us to reflection and transport us to this other time! Initially I thought that most of them had just come in from the Church next door, the ladies were suited and buttoned down in their their Sunday best! I had an overwhelming sense of the costumes of muted colour but then realised that the piece was within a month of the war ending. However, I was relieved to see that a few miscreants made their presence known as the entertainment progressed. And I must mention the stunningly costumed Pearly Kings and Queens taking us for a stroll down Lambeth Way and the failed Popsy Wopsy who made everyone roar with laughter with her excellent timing.The monologues were so well delivered and entertaining. Just one consideration might be to keep them all short, as the Dickens reading, while very well delivered, was a little long and interrupted the ‘flow’ slightly.

Thank you to you all – front of house and on stage for your committent and warmth – and truly excellent entertainment.