The Bakers Wife is a story of 1930’s rural France. The village’s local baker suddenly dies and the people who live there are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new one. Once he arrives everything is fine again until one day local boy Dominique (Adam Redford), convinces the bakers (much younger) wife, Genevieve, to elope with him. This sends the baker into a state of depression and once again the villagers are starved of bread. How do you solve a problem like this? Simple, you go out and search for the bakers wife and convince her to come home so everything can be fine again. But is life ever that straightforward?
At first I was unsure about the casting of the baker (Gary Bland) as he didn’t have any oomph to him. However as the first act came to a close I realised the sappy, Amos-esque character was exactly the way the character should be played. This is a man who would let his wife get away with anything so long as she didn’t leave him. The bakers final song in act one was reminiscent of Gus the Theatre Cat from Cats the Musical. A man who has given up all hope in life. Reading that Gary Bland only made his theatrical debut in 2012, at the age of 51, was inspiring to see that it really is never too late to chase your dreams.
The bakers wife (Holli Paige Farr) was sweet and charming and had a great voice. At times I wondered how good her acting was but by the end of the show I had been won over with her huge eyes and powerful vocals. Oliver Jacobson and Angus McIntyre were a brilliant duo as Barnaby and Claude, two men who had never spoken a word to each other because of family quarrels many generations ago. They acted brilliantly and their sub-story was lovely. Matthew Whitby was adorable as the little teacher. He gave the role everything he had to offer and showed he is a good all-rounder.
The Drayton Arms is a very small theatre above a pub in South Kensington. The seats are far from comfortable and the audience are packed in like sardines but if you can get past this it’s quite a nice venue. The set design was well done with a rustic French feel to it and the smell of freshly baked bread, whafting through the aisles, was a very nice touch.
It’s not often I comment on the drection of a show as it’s not something I tend to focus on. However Marc Kelly has done an amazing job with everything well thought out. Right from the dozing French pianist (Kieran Stallard) before the show started to the movements and gestures used throughout the show. I can’t wait to see more work from this man.
With music by Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz it was nice to see songs with melodies on a par with Wicked, showing that he is by no means a one trick pony.
The Bakers Wife is a nice little story with great songs, catchy melodies and some brilliant performances from the cast. Definitely one to go and see!
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Claire Bilyard of scarabpictures.co.uk
The Bakers Wife is playing at the Drayton Arms Theatre until 4 July 2015. For more information and to book tickets click here