Local history?: Brackenbury – the Musical

Eminent historian Oliver Cyriax cracks open Brackenbury Museum’s archive and breaks into song with Diana Dors.

This futuristic piece from the 1950s had a glittering first night at the Tabard. My old friend Kathryn (Bigelow) agrees it has promise. Backers for a revival, anyone?

Act 1: the villagers gather outside St Michael’s Chapel for Sunday Service in a thinly-disguised Ruritarian village. Lucy’s parents are angling for a free education (“Relatively Recent Converts”). Locals clad in Lederhosen exchange gossip about how much their houses are worth. This vibrant all-white ethnic community has fallen prey to a cult: their High Priest is a charismatic Estate Agent! At divine service, he preaches the Gospel of Rising Property (“The Only Way is Up”) accompanied in descant by massed ranks of negotiators. A Divorce Shop is in the sacristy (“It all seemed to be going so well”). Fat lawyers loll around singing dirges (“We very much regret to say… that you’ve got to pay and pay… Please send your remittance / it’s only a pittance / to fund second chateaux / not forgetting our bateaux”).

Lucy sobs when she realizes her father has signed her away as apprentice to an estate agent – until she spots a handsome young man lugging an organic deer by the antlers. He strangled it with his bare hands in Ravenscourt. He is bronzed and healthy: the leader of the local signwriters. He tells Lucy she can be free. There is a better life. They can rent. The young couple sing songs about how much they love each before eloping to a life of disappointing penury.

Act 2: the tables have turned – signwriters rake in hugely-inflated wage packets while property-owners stump around in clogs. There was a crash (“White truffles are so yesterday”). Lucy misses her dog and old parents.

Act 3: (which I personally think needs more work): the reunited families agree to leave their cares behind. They board a giant airship for a new life on a distant planet where everything will be the same but somehow better (“By the time we get to Kidston”).

Oddly enough, Diana Dors insisted on playing Lucy. Her singing was inexcusable.


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