You know where you stand with Su Pollard. The fabulously eccentric performer is nothing if not energetic and exuberant, which is probably exactly the style needed in a catalogue musical of 60s hits calling itself ‘the grooviest show in town’.
In Shout!, the former Hi De Hi star plays hairdresser Yvonne, part surrogate mother part friend to three girls new to London at the start of the 60s and full of ambition for their lives over the next decade. Will Betty, who pays more than a passing resemblance to Scooby Doo’s Velma, make it as a secretary? Will leggy Scouser Georgina make it as a film star? Will modern woman Ruby make it with any man who shows her the slightest attention?
To be honest, it doesn’t really matter, as their trials and tribulations are there simply to frame songs as iconic as Downtown, Bobby’s Girl, Son Of A Preacher Man, Big Spender, These Boots Are Made For Walking and Shout. These are the hits that had the first night audience clapping and singing along, and these are the real stars of the show.
Pollard, as one would expect, gets most of the show’s punchlines, many of which, like the music, come straight from the 60s. There are also guffaws of recognition for references scattered throughout the production and a wry, knowing glance at the status of women in that era provided by Tony T, editor of Shout! magazine, who sporadically arrives on stage to offer advice about hair removal and cooking.
The small scale production is unashamedly a triumph of nostalgia, as comforting and amusing as an old friend nudging you and whispering ‘Do you remember…’ Not being a child of the 60s made it harder for me to get all the jokes, but did I enjoy it? We-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ll… you know it made me want to shout!