The Great British Country Fete

He comes up with some pretty good lines, but stand-up Russell Kane hasn’t mastered the art of creating a satisfying story.

Even at just 70 minutes long, this playfully executed mini-musical feels overstretched and repetitive.
But its heart is definitely in the right place as Graham Lappin’s rustic Farmer Joe stages a fete in protest over Tesco’s plans to take over the Suffolk village of Upham and swallow everything that gives it its character – not, perhaps, that that would be a totally bad thing given the selection of eccentrics who’ve set up their stalls.

There’s a little old lady with fascist leanings who will only make jam out of perfect, pale fruit; a pair of posh townies who’ve been vigorously milking an exhausted billy goat (cue a mimed demonstration which leaves no room for doubt as to the exact source of the unique ingredient of their yoghurt-style product), plus a female vicar who’s far too focussed on the local teenage boys and a simple young lad clutching a vicious-looking stuffed ferret. One can’t help but sympathise with Joe’s gay son who wants to escape from this social backwater to the techno throb of Brighton clubs.

Completing the versatile cast of three (and sharing keyboard and guitar duties) Gabriel Vick and Katie Brayben bring the population to caricatured life and deliver Michael Bruce’s songs with gusto.

If only structure and material were just that bit stronger, their likeable enthusiasm would probably succeed in glossing over the cracks.
Still, with a glass or two of wine beforehand and a lashings of friendly summer indulgence, this jokey portrayal of the little man’s fight against the takeover of global corporations offers a few laughs, some strong singing and, if you’re lucky, a taste of homemade jam.

Bush Theatre, Shepherds Bush Green, W12 8QD
020 8743 5050
Tube: Shepherds Bush
Until 14th August

Review: Louise Kingsley