REVIEW: Miss Nightingale, Library Theatre

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This musical has been written by Sheffielder Matthew Bugg and stars another, Jill Cardo.

Miss Nightingale is the stage name of a feisty northerner, Maggie, who is determined to break through on the World War Two London cabaret circuit as a singer of sassy and saucy songs.

It’s bawdy postcard humour and Maggie plays a series of comic characters with an edge of sexiness for each song, like a cheeky music hall act.

Jill Cardo shows her versatility to the full as a singer, comedienne, dancer, actress and trumpeter.

Offstage, Maggie’s love life is a mess as her affair with her married manager comes apart.

Her best friend George (Harry Waller), a Jewish Polish refugee who’s fled the sexual freedom of pre-war Berlin, writes her songs.

Unbeknown to Maggie, he has his own problems. He’s gay at a time when homosexuality was illegal. Gays were labelled ‘the enemy within’ and a threat to war morale.

His troubled secret love story with club impresario Sir Frank (Tomm Coles) is now a central part of the plot and it’s beautifully done.

The show, which has been rewritten and has new songs, now works even better dramatically, mixing hilarious comedy with darker drama. However, it is a little long.

The cast, who also provide live musical accompaniment, never missed a beat, even when some scenery came crashing down.