Here is a celebration of Wales in all its glory. With a gust of wind, Seiriol Davies’ musical welcomes us to Milky Peaks, a pebble-dashed market town in the heart of Snowdonia. Inhabited by an array of lovable eccentrics, it receives a nomination for best British town – a ploy of a competition designed by a rightwing party looking to find a new political home.
There are flickers of genius in Davies’ writing. Complete with a robotic chanting chorus that steer the drama – “we begin at the starting point,” they inform us – and an on-stage accompanist (Dylan Townley) who explodes from the sidelines into chuckle-worthy supporting roles, it is masterfully inventive. But, with a cast of so many characters, the script meanders between loosely connected stories and we never find the drama’s core.
Which isn’t to say it’s not funny. Matthew Blake as Ms Pariah Carey is a dazzling presence and high-kicks with astonishing vigour in a Madonna-like costume. The deadpan straight white man, Alun John (Tanya Bridgeman), has a delightful song about the hardships of his gender. “You’re being insensitive to my little needs,” she tunes while marching blokeishly across the stage.
It is when we get to more sentimental territory that momentum starts to dip. Lisa Jên Brown’s Mother is warm and wondrously Welsh but her solos drag and prolong a piece that could already use a trim. A subplot about the local artistic director (Sophie Winter) hiring, firing, then rehiring Ms Pariah Carey as the lead inMy Fair Lady also quickly tires.
The slate-towered set, designed by Janet Bird, comes spectacularly alive when a gay club opens, and the twirling disco lights and rainbow-tiled dancefloor deliver a joy-filled moment. It’s worth the trip if just to see this glittering delight.