There’s something decidedly cartoonish about Richard Jones’s lively revival of Irving Berlin’s 1946 hit Wild West musical. Stretched out across a thin, choreography-squashing stage, it has the cheeky feel of a comic strip story punctuated with catchy tunes and populated with intentionally two-dimensional minor characters.
Although loosely based on the real life story of Ohio sharpshooter Annie Oakley, this lively interpretation – which moves the action well into the 20th century – is impossible to take seriously as Jane Horrocks’ gurning Annie discovers that, no matter how true your aim, You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun. From illiterate country hick to globally feted celebrity, her Annie is always something more than a child but less than a woman as she falls forquick-on-the-draw ladies’ man Frank Butler (a strong-voiced, open-faced Julian Ovenden) and joins Buffalo Bill’s travelling entourage.
The busy production combines travelating scenery and witty video sequences (of Annie’s whistle-stop world tour meetings with Mao, Churchill and Hitler, too) with old-fashioned singing styles. It won’t please purists – and the upper levels of the set are disappointingly underused. But it’s endearingly playful and with its infectiously familiar numbers including There’s No Business Like Show Business and Anything You Can Do (here reorchestrated for a quartet of pianos) it provides an evening of undemanding – if politically incorrect – entertainment.
Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ TUBE: Southwark/Waterloo (020 7922 2922). Until Jan 2. £22.50-£29.50, under 26 £10