Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Review: Spend Spend Spend at the Union Theatre

Spend Spend Spend
Union Theatre
Reviewed on Saturday 28th March 2015

Spend Spend Spend, which premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 1988 before transferring to the West End, is a beautiful musical with a big heart. Steve Brown and Justin Greene's piece features a score of hidden gems.

Two actresses portray the central character, Viv. Katy Dean plays the feisty young Viv who attempts to take on the world fearlessly; Dean allows the character's vulnerability to shine through. Julie Armstrong plays an older Viv who is more reflective but still has fire in her belly. Both Dean and Armstrong give their all, performing with charm and impressively belting out the big numbers.

Set in a Yorkshire working class community in the sixties, Spend Spend Spend follows Viv as she comes into some money, which probably does more harm than good. The tone very much reminded me of Blood Brothers; Christian Durham's direction appropriately captures the grit and hardship throughout, whilst being consistently funny. 

The strong cast dash on and off throughout, the piece never drags but it certainly feels like you are taken on a long journey. Elle-Rose Hughes' design is simply atmospheric, whilst Heather Douglas' choreography dazzles - the big company numbers are a joy to watch.

Once again the Union Theatre have found another stunning piece of theatre to revive. Spend Spend Spend would no longer work in the West End, but it is perfectly suited to the intimate setting of the Union Theatre. The music is a revelation, the story pulls at the heart strings, the creative team are stellar and the cast rarely put a foot wrong - a terrific production.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Spend Spend Spend runs at the Union Theatre until Saturday 18th April 2015.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

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