17 February 2015

Whistle Down the Wind at the Union Theatre was glorious

All that I knew about Whistle Down the Wind previously was that it was the name of a song by Nick Heyward from the eighties and I guessed that it had nothing to do with this show. But there was something evocative about the title and my previous experiences of the Union Theatre had all been good (or better) so I decided to go.

I managed to work in Kings Cross that day and as I am on a health kick at the moment and I had plenty of time, I walked all the way down to Southwark arriving there just in time for a coffee before the box office opened at 6:30. The first target was to get one of the first ten tickets, which I managed comfortably.

That then gave me a almost an hour to go across the road to the Union Jack for some food and something to eat. I went for the Nachos as I had on my two previous visits as I like nachos and I like sticking to things that I like.

Then, armed with my top-ten ticket, I went back to the Union to join the queue to make the most of that ticket. It is just possible that the man who got in to the theatre ahead of me had been in the box office queue before me so I did not begrudge him taking my favourite seat too much. I took one next to him.

The stage was set out as on my previous two visits with the performance area on the right and the seats arranged in a wide horse-shoe on the left. As I sat facing the stage the small band of musicians were in the corner on the far right.

The story of Whistle Down the Wind was almost silly, some children find an escaped convict hiding in a barn, convince themselves that he is Jesus Christ returned and conspire to hide him from the adults. But there was far more to this than the story.

The heart of the piece was the many emotional relationships between the children, their friends, their father and his sister, the convict and the other adults. This was a slow moving piece that wallowed in the emotional highs and lows of the unusual situation and the usual hardships of the time.

The music and singing heightened the emotions with slow powerful tunes and plenty of group singing of the sort that I enjoy. I also liked the mix of combinations of singers with solos, duets, small groups, larger groups, larger groups and mixes of male and female voices. I think I prefer musicals where the singing roles are shared widely rather than given to just a few lead singers, but do not quote me on that.

A particular favourite scene of mine was towards the end when all of the children formed a line around the barn to keep the adults out and sang loudly and proudly. It was a magnificent moment in an excellent musical.

Whistle Down the Wind really surprised me. I went there with few expectations and hoping just to be reasonably entertained but I left in absolute awe of what I had just witnessed. It moved me in a way that I did not expect to me moved and in a way that very few musicals have. Would definitely see it again.

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