Bunting, sea-mist and a tiny life preserver set the stage for Anything Goes, a ditsy and delightful musical of (mainly) romantic misdemeanors on a cross-Atlantic cruise. Eloise Grieve plays Reno Sweeney, queen of the cruise, swerving between scandalous showgirl and everyone’s best mate; opposite her Cameron Burne piles on the charm as Wall Street chancer Billy. Everyone is on the make – looking for a fast buck, money to marry, the next rung on the ladder, and this works well with a young, ambitious cast. Even Billy’s boss, Zillionaire Elisha J Whitney (a harrumphing Oscar Pratley) is pushing to expand his empire in the direction of Mrs Evangeline Harcourt, taken to hysterical heights by Georgina Osibodu.
Some of the young cast members really shine; Laurel Platt brings a sly spark to every scene she’s in, while Daniel North brawls and bounces round the stage as he owns the role of public enemy #13, Moonface Martin. Katie Ledden as Hope Harcourt offered up hilarity and heartbreak in equal parts, while Cameron Tanner contorted effectively around the contradictions and awkwardness of Sir Evelyn Oakley’s role to deliver a convincing romantic foil to Sweeney’s hopeless romanticism. Oliver Barker, Jojo Meredith and Finlay Pratley delivered comedy and elegance as the dancing, flirting, frivolous sailors, playing a fine chorus to Stevie MacAvoy’s delightfully demanding and vampish Erma.
With mass ensemble tap-dance, a full
live band, and plenty of fresh faces behind the scenes, there is too much
talent on show to name-check everyone; but RicNic performances continue to be a great
place to spot up-and-coming talent in Oxford. RicNic is a social enterprise theatre
where young people perform, produce and lead the show, and this gives
everything a frothy lightness which zaps and zings all the way to the
inevitable, delightful and de-lovely happy ending.