What is abundantly clear about Fine and Dandy written by Sue Frumin is that the whole basis of this play has been well researched and she has constructed a powerful and at times very moving look at a Jewish community. Escaping the tyranny of Cossack Russia this is the story of a family, a troupe of entertainers desperate to get to America but because they took the wrong boat ended up in Liverpool and then the cotton mills of Manchester.
This show is packed to the rafters with fascinating content as Frumin looks at gender fluidity, homosexuality, sapphic desire and even people born as hermaphrodites.
There are no labels applied here; instead drawing on the history of tradition, folklore, family loyalty and the need to put food on the table. The energy also comes from the staging of the musical numbers with “When I’m Cleaning Windows” sung in Yiddish being a huge crowd pleaser, and the opening and closing renditions of “A Little Of What You Fancy Does You Good” totally encapsulating the period Edwardian music hall.
This is also a boisterous romp with special mention having to be made of Dan de La Motte as Beryl (and part of the troupe) and Dani Singer who is sensational as ‘fagele’ (yiddish for gay man) Ernest whose stage presence is terrific, and lastly Anca Vaida whose grasp of the various roles she plays is a masterclass in ‘mood’ acting especially in the opening sequence where as Ring Master she claps her hands and the characters come alive like marionettes without strings.
Frumin touches on the issue of guilt, and the consequences of it, which truly adds to the comedy moments of the show. Life can be a huge juggling act and director Lil Warren’s sincere and honest style of handling the material was pure quality creating a controlled order out of intentional chaos.
With its twists and turns Fine and Dandy comes to a beautiful end that completes the story of these characters with a thoughtfulness that was totally beguiling.
Photos by Ray Malone