Cathy Crabb and Lindsay Williams
Oldham Coliseum Theatre
Oldham Coliseum Theatre
Dreamers is the name of a well-known indie nightclub in Oldham in the 1990s, as well as a description of those who frequented it and whom we meet in the play. It milks the local audience's nostalgia by leaning very heavily on the pantomime trick of littering the dialogue with lots of local references from that period.
The first act is set in 1992 when we learn of the friendships and the antagonisms between the young, all-female characters. Izzy is in care but about to be cast into the wide world to fend for herself. Her best friend is Toni, who works in her mother's greetings card shop, but there is a powerful antagonism between Izzy and Roz, whose father runs the care home, culminating in a violent episode that changes all of their lives.
Act II is some years later when most of the earlier characters have grown up and had children of their own. The ones who succeeded and failed in their ambitions are not as we may have thought at the start, but the explanation for Izzy and Roz's hatred of one another finally comes out and bonds them together.
There is a powerful human story hidden behind the '90s nostalgia, but it isn't given enough space to arrive at its full potential. The dialogue often feels contrived to fill in plot or steer towards the next gag or local reference rather than to sound like real conversations.
The Coliseum has presented a few jukebox musicals in the past, some of which have been devised by the theatre's own team, but this brand new piece has a composer credited (Carol Donaldson). However most of the songs are easily recognisable as songs from the period—not in parody form like the great A Slice of Saturday Night does for '60s music, but actual songs with some original lyrics and some replaced with new ones.
So we get reworked versions of "Friday I'm In Love" by The Cure, "Sit Down" by James, "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" by The Smiths, "I Am The Resurrection" by The Stone Roses, a finale of "Wonderwall" by Oasis and more, uncredited in the programme.
There are some broad characters in this play, but some excellent performances bring them down to earth and make them believable. Sally Carmen is excellent as the troubled Izzy, with a very nice supporting performance of the more subtle character of Toni from Rachel Leskovac. Lauryn Redding plays myriad characters and shows how a small part can be made both funny and believable.
If the Coliseum is to continue producing musicals, it really needs to invest in a decent sound system. It pumps far too much sound through too few speakers, making the vocals in particular rather muddy and indistinct, and the balance between vocals and music is quite variable too.
It's certainly a piece that will entertain a local audience that likes to revel in nostalgia about its recent past, especially those who frequented Dreamers night club, and it has quite a few laughs along the way.