Review: Our Blue Heaven, by Peter Rowe, New Wolsey Theatre until May 26.
- Credit: Archant
What a heady, vibrant musical celebration! Our Blue Heaven takes audiences back in time to revisit Ipswich Town’s momentous FA Cup victory over Arsenal in May 1978. But, this isn’t just a stroll down memory lane for long-time football fans but rather it’s a celebration of a town.
It’s the fans story just as much as it’s a record of the football club’s journey to Wembley. It’s the story of a time which is recaptured with the help of a rocking house band who punctuate the action with hits of the day – everything from Staying Alive, London’s Calling, Hanging On The Telephone, Because The Night, Heroes and Queen’s We Are The Champions.
It’s a story which follows events happening in people’s lives as they followed Ipswich Town’s relentless march to the twin towers of Wembley. There’s a firemen’s strike, a wedding, the birth of baby all coming together or being shaped by Ipswich Town’s successful cup run.
This is genuine community theatre with fans supplying the memories which formed the basis of the script. Also, DanceEast supplied and choreographed a community chorus of dancers who recreated the highlights of the FA Cup matches.
The New Wolsey’s artistic director Peter Rowe, writer of Our Blue Heaven, has produced a play which is both funny and highly emotional. It connects with the audience because it is about ordinary people and our day to day lives and the lift it gives us when the team we support does well.
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The cast is uniformly excellent but special mention must be made of Peter Peverley who brings Bobby Robson to life on stage. He has his voice, his mannerisms and his presence in a way that is simply uncanny. He is the glue which holds the show together, sharing pearls of footballing wisdom with us the audience and by extension with the fans on stage.
The other stand-out performance was delivered by 14 year old New Wolsey youth actor Anna Kitching who plays super-fan Sue, whose need to follow her team to Wembley lies at the heart of the show.
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You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be singing the hits and you may get to see a genuine footballing legend on stage. Ipswich Town fans will love it but Our Blue Heaven isn’t just a play for football fans, instead it’s a love letter to the people of Suffolk and to those far-off days in the 1970s. A sumptuous treat from beginning to end.