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Doodlebugs & Bogeymen

What clever timing at Thornbury Arts Festival to schedule Doodlebugs and Bogeymen on the exact day of Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday.

This fond homage by the Ministry of Entertainment to the resilience of British people during the Second World War was a timely illustration of what it was like to be in Britain at that time, how people coped and the humour inherent in some situations.

The insecurity of children was not ignored, nor the uncertainty for host families whose own children may be away actually fighting overseas.

Ross Noble and Kate McNab portrayed and inhabited an array of characters, initially a brother and sister evacuated from Ealing in West London to Severn Beach in rural South Gloucestershire but then they also became by means of quick changes the resettlement officer, the farmer and his wife giving the two children a home for the duration of the war, a zany musical ventriloquist and the local bumbling rector.

Ross and Kate’s easy charm and quick humour immediately got the audience on their side happily appreciating the simple fun extracted from each situation and enjoying the remembrance of period details such as simple home cures like the use of castor oil and Andrews Liver Salts. 

How good to recall transport difficulties such as the lack of road signs and the large number of people it was habitual to transport on a motorbike and side-car.  The legendary knitted swimming costume and its inability to hold up on the beach when wet was not ignored!

It was a joy to hear songs from the time such as Run Rabbit Run and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square sung expressively by Kate but joined by the audience with enthusiasm.  The final rousing rendition of Vera Lynn’s powerful and emotive We’ll Meet Again formed a wonderful finale to a funny, quirky and most entertaining evening.

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