Review Peggys Song, National Theatre Wales by Kevin Johnson

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

Danny Walkman, a radio DJ at St Bevans Hospital, loves music so much he can’t conceive of someone not having a favourite track, then after one of his shows he meets Peggy, an elderly patient with no time for music or Danny either. Can he solve her cryptic clues and find out which one is Peggy’s song?

Written by Katherine Chandler as part of National Theatre Wales NHS at 70 festival in 2018, this play is insightful, funny, sad and downright charming. It explores with compassion the relationship between a caring but careless Danny, still in mourning for his father, and the tough, hard-bitten Peggy, who only cares for custard creams. Other characters are given more than just a simple sketching, so that they surround the piece, creating more depth.

Phil Clark’s direction broadens the production out from Danny’s mixing desk and chair, helping the audience visualise hospital wards, houses, even a memorial garden.

But at the heart of this monologue is Christian Patterson, who ties it all together and brings it to life, giving each character their own voice. His Danny is saved from being a stereotypical DJ, all form and no substance, by the suggestion of layers behind the cheery persona. This is a man on the edge of a breakdown, trying to come to terms with his father’s death, the possible senility of his father’s friend who works in the hospital, Peggy’s illness and his own precarious future.

At just over an hour, this play doesn’t outstay its welcome, but it packs more into its short running time than a lot of full-length ones. Peggy’s Song is more than worth an hour of your time, and as well as the warm humour, you may well come away with a few things to think about. I know I did, and I’ll treasure for a long time the sight of Christian Patterson dancing with a Bugs Bunny doll.

The production is currently on tour and can be seen at the venues below.

Blackwood Miners Institute – 8 October, 7.30pm BOOK NOW

Torch Theatre, Milford Haven – 9 October, 7.30pm BOOK NOW

Ffwrnes, Llanelli – 10 October, 7.30pm BOOK NOW

Lyric, Carmarthen – 11 October, 7.30pm BOOK NOW

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