9-14 May 2016
Reviewed by Michelle Llabani
It is always a treat to walk into the Royal & Derngate, to be welcomed and shown to a comfortable seat. Tonight had an added surprise as the stunning stage set, displaying the North Yorkshire Moors and the railway, wasn’t hidden behind a curtain but on show, immediately transporting the audience and creating an atmosphere of anticipation.
Cue the Heartbeat theme and shots of the village of Aidensfield projected on to the backdrop as the stage slowly turned to reveal the bar of the Aidensfield Arms. It was as if the TV had come to life and the audience was in the bar too. The use of the revolving stage, still shots and video clips to depict a total of eight different sets was impressive and less distracting than ordinary scene changes.
Heartbeat advertised a brand new script and all the great music that was an intrinsic feature of the TV series regularly watched by millions for 18 years. Perhaps the only negative comment, which I hesitate to make, is that many members of the audience, myself included, thought that the music played could have lasted a little longer than a few bars each time the set changed.
The script however combined the drama and comedy that we had all come to count on and treasure. Without giving too much of the plot away we were introduced to two new characters, a dissident Irishman and a shifty policeman from the Flying Squad, who provided the gritty drama, with lies and plot twists as one would expect. The witty wordplay between the regular characters of the show maintained the lightheartedness that typified previous stories and kept us entertained throughout the show.
Live shows don’t come with a rewind facility which is a great pity as the repartee and timing between PC Geoff Younger, (Steven Blakeley), and David Stockwell, (David Lonsdale), in their scenes together are classic comedy and worth watching again and again. They certainly received the loudest applause from the audience.
A very accomplished and experienced cast and production team gave the audience a night to look back on with nostalgia and affection and an opportunity to reminisce about a programme that we still miss.
Tickets cost from £13 to £30 (plus transaction fee).
Heartbeat is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton until 14 May 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01604 624811.
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811