Matthew Bugg’s Miss Nightingale combines the glamour, music and laughter of show business with the gritty truths of everyday lives in war-torn London. The show quickly establishes the juxtaposed worlds of the 1940s; “Come Along Mister”, full of drama, tension and secrets, exposes the dangers of homosexuality during the 20th century, yet it’s swiftly followed by a risqué retelling of the famous Pied Piper in “Let Me Play on Your Pipe”, which indulges in the necessity for uplifting showbiz throughout the Second World War.
The story is daring, thought-provoking and incredibly touching but each scene, even during its darkest moments, is so full of wit that it’s guaranteed to make you smile.
Miss Nightingale follows the lives of George, Frank and Maggie. Maggie, a common Northern girl, blooms into London’s new rising star, ‘Miss Nightingale’ – a beautiful, raunchy night club singer. Whilst Miss Nightingale’s sassiness certainly captures the audience’s attention, it’s the forbidden love of her friends that takes centre stage. George Nowodny, a gay refugee who longs to bring the freedom of old-Berlin to London, and Sir Frank, a very rich gentleman, secretly fall in love, leading them to become caught up in a dangerous web of close calls, lies and blackmail.
Unbelievably, the story seamlessly combines both the tenderness and poignant love story with an impressive number of laughs, gawps and gasps.
Showcasing their talents on the piano, trumpet, double bass, ukulele and many more instruments, every cast member is hugely talented and demonstrates further that Miss Nightingale is overflowing with talent. The cast perform together with such fluidity, whether that’s in song, music or dance, and it’s often made even more noticeable when each of their stories dramatically fuse into a musical medley.
It’s certainly a beautiful piece of writing, full to the brim with 21 original songs that just can’t be missed. Miss Nightingale is showing until Saturday 30 January at Hull Truck Theatre, so grab your tickets whilst you still can. To book, call the Box Office on 01482 323638 or visit hulltruck.co.uk. The show then continues to visit UK venues until late February.