Susan Welsh saw Bingo! A new musical comedy at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness.
Every week more than two million women head for their nearest bingo hall clutching their favourite pens and hope to their chests, wishing that tonight, Lady Luck shines on them.
More often than not, she’s a no show, so they console themselves with a catch up with their pals, a few drinks and possibly a poke of chips and cheese on the way home.
Because there’s always next week…
Bingo! a new musical comedy presented by Grid Iron Theatre Company and Stellar Quines Theatre Company, set the show in a typical Scottish bingo hall, where on one fateful night, there’s a lot more than the chance to win the National getting their hearts racing.
For regular Daniella (Louise McCarthy) has done a very bad thing.
She’d been entrusted by her bingo pals to look after the money they’d saved up for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Las Vegas with bingo caller Betty (Still Game’s Isa).
But temptation proved too much for Daniella, who has a dead-end job, no boyfriend, no hope, and lives with her bullying mother Mary (played by Wendy Seager). She goes on a spending spree with the cash, even though she knows it’s wrong, and tonight she’s going to have to resort to desperate measures.
When her mum wins the National Game, Daniella thinks her prayers have been answered, but when she learns her mum has switched the bingo books, she goes into meltdown and a hostage situation ensues.
Thanks to social media, axe-wielding Daniella is quickly branded, the Bingo Bandit, with the whole world watching online and on TV as events unfold.
Using music as a narrative, everyone’s back story is told. Ruthie (Jo Freer) is having a hard time at home with her husband and new baby; Donny (Darren Brownlee) is the bingo assistant who feels unloved and overlooked by the women chasing rainbows while wearing Primark.
Then there’s Joanna (Barbara Rafferty) who, shocked after finding her husband having his way with his nurse at home, seeks solace – along with her beloved Henry Hoover, in the bingo hall. She provided some of the biggest laughs of the night as she gradually gets drunk and accidentally pops pills.
The laughs, and fairly strong language, came thick and fast, although at one point, the action slowed to a halt during an unnecessary scene about shifting a one-armed bandit.
The cast all sang and danced well, and there were some nice harmonies in the numbers. One or two songs pulled at the heart strings, but apart from a lively number, Viva Las Vegas, they were melodic but not memorable enough to have you leave the theatre whistling them.
The cast put in tremendously strong performances creating very believable characters so it was a real shame the show drew such a small, but very appreciative audience.
If you like a game of housey housey, you’ll love Bingo!
There’s another chance to see it tonight at Eden Court Theatre.