Valley of Song

3
Professional World Premiere at the Finborough Theatre
By Orlando - 16th Jan 2014

Valley of Song reviewValley of Song was Ivor Novello’s final musical, near completion, at the time of his death at the age of 58. A Welsh ballad-filled escape-from-home dare-to-dream home-is-best gentle musical. The music is soulful as it is tuneful; landing on the ear with fine choral harmony and witty uncomplicated lyrics; like the valleys and the pedestrian nature of Cromidris in which the evening begins and ends. This is a real gem of a work, musically, from the influential canon of a master songwriter.

The story is a simple one – perhaps just too simple! Boy loves girl, girl loves boy – but does not know it, she dreams of escape and being a star, the escape happens in gay Venice where the big bad man woes our heroine into his clutches, maternal forces combine to free her from his grasp. All return home, the boy leaves for war, returns from war…. Love blossoms. I in no way mean to be trite in this summation, but that is really it. As such the company really did need to invest more in the actual production, the characters and narrative vignettes therein. With a substantial element of the evening being duologue exchanges, more character extraction was required to carry this fragile tale through to and past the finish line. It was, I am afraid, one-note acting in the main and throughout. A real shame as the broad characters where there, but hidden deep beneath the excellent choir / choral work. No real choreography to mention and the set design was perfectly functional.

Jill Nalder as the affectionate yet no-nonsense retainer whipped up an emotional tempest in her stunning deliver of Soldier Lad, and Linford Hydes beautiful and tremulous tones where perfectly pitched, though much underused. Katy Treharne’s voice was crystal clear and soulful; especially in her renditions of Look in my Heart and Rainbow in the Fountain.

All in all, a big tick and thumbs up to the Finborough and Tarquin Productions for finding, staging and delivering the delightful musical. The songs were wonderfully executed with flair and detail. A treat on the ear for all musical theatre fans and much more so for Ivor Novello stalwarts.

Orlando Weston


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