A pleasant flight of fancy
The Nightingales is a light comedy about the tribulations of an eccentric theatrical family in the 1950s.
The action takes place in the home of the son, Jack (Andy Musson), who lives alone, looked after by his young housekeeper Geraldine (Theresa Pollard) and spends most of the play resplendent in a silk Noel Coward dressing gown.
He plays piano at the Café de Paris in a cabaret act with the attractive Maggie (Laura Harrison). In fact, the interludes of him playing Noel Coward songs (to match his dressing gown) on the piano provide some of the best moments of the play.
Maggie spends a lot of time rehearsing with him at his house and secretly fancies Jack, but he remains oblivious. But then, Geraldine has her eye on him, too, with a similar lack of response.
Suddenly, Jack’s parents turn up on his doorstep with suitcases. ‘We’re only here ‘til the weekend,’ says his mother – but doesn’t say which weekend.
His parents used to do a double act, as Charlie and Bea, but after 50 years doing the round of music halls they have retired and are now getting on each other’s nerves.
Chris Turner dominates the stage as the larger than life Charlie while Marie Gorman is his perfect foil.
The script takes a while to get going but is full of amusing one-liners and picks up the pace in the second half when Bea sets off for France and a secret liaison with a gipsy, leaving Charlie bereft as he reads her ‘goodbye letter’.
But there is a surprise to come, when Charlie returns complete with a string of onions round his neck and a beret on his head. ‘Only got as far as Dover’, he says as they decide to resurrect the act and their marriage.
Maggie finally gets Jack and all is well. Shame for Geraldine, but that’s life.
A pleasant look back on a soon to be forgotten era.