The Spitfire Grill
Reviewed on Saturday 25th July 2015
Based on Lee David Zlotoff's 1996 movie, James Valcq and Fred Alley's musical adaptation of The Spitfire Grill premiered off-Broadway in 2001. Although hundreds of productions have subsequently been produced worldwide, this marks the first time The Spitfire Grill has been staged in the UK.
The Spitfire Grill is not a musical that relies on flashy sets, bright costumes or big choreography. Occasionally musicals can feel a little squashed and restricted when they are staged in tiny off-West End venues, whereas The Spitfire Grill is a fine example of the kind of show which lends itself beautifully to the intimacy of a venue such as the Union Theatre. It's small and it's simple, yet intriguing and truthful.
Belinda Wollaston stars as Percy Talbott, a woman rebuilding her life. After being released from prison, Percy finds herself in the town of Gilead where she gets a job at the local café called 'The Spitfire Grill'. Friendships are made, secrets are revealed and drama unfolds.
Wollaston brings a certain rawness to her portrayal of Percy which is hugely refreshing. She gives her all, performing with such heart. The cast are small, but take to the stage with lots of charm and big presence, owning the piece from start to finish.
Alastair Knights' production has clear focus and paces itself well. It's a detailed musical which dares to be a little bit different. Not only is it important that producers and directors take risks in musical theatre, but it's important that audiences do too. By staging this show, Knights reminds us how amazing the Union Theatre is as I can't imagine The Spitfire Grill working as well anywhere else. This ballsy musical is well worth a look!