It’s always a pleasure on a light spring evening to visit Chichester Festival Theatre.
This years new musical offer is ‘Travels with my Aunt”, based on Graham Greene’s 1969 novel. It proved to be lighthearted and entertaining show based on the travels and adventures of an elderly Aunt and her repressed retired bank manager nephew.
It is a fun romp around a selection of exotic destinations in search of Aunt Augusta’s (Patricia Hodge) long-lost love, Visconti. Her poor nephew Henry (Steven Pacey) is persuaded reluctantly to abandon his suburban life cultivating his precious dahlias to trail after her.
The show cheerfully takes us on a journey by train, flight and sea visiting Paris, Milan, Istanbul and Asunción
Patricia Hodge keeps up the energy throughout. Her limited vocal range is compensated by the comedy and emotion she portrays with each song.
She finds the warmth in the character, which could otherwise be irritatingly bombastic or just plain, eccentric.
Steven Pacey is also excellent as Henry, a buttoned up but thoroughly decent character who finds travel broadens his mind and enlightens him to the joys of love.
The set at the Minerva theatre consists of railway departure board and a big glass-and-wood cabin depicting the carriage compartments seen on old trains. The orchestra is cleverly elevated in a signal box.
The show’s fast pace, jaunty song lyrics and snappy choreography captures the social and sexual enlightenment of the sixties providing a nostalgia kick to the audience.
The show is a reminder that romance and adventure doesn’t automatically have to stop at 70, however, I’m not sure it inspired me to give up the dahlias and take to a life on the road, but in a few years time, who knows…….
Travels with My Aunt runs at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre until 4 June. Box office 01243 781312 or cft.org.uk