Pump Boys a breath of fresh air - if you win the raffle...
I suppose you could say that "Pump Boys and Dinettes" is a tiny tribute to part of the American way of life - the roadside gas station and diner which we have seen in a thousand films and is revealed here in all its tacky glory in Tim Goodchild's masterful set, a far cry from the elegant designs for which he is best known.
At least L.M. and Jim's establishment is a friendlier, happier place than the average Bristish motorway service area, more of a club, really, except that no members are in evidence in David Taylor's production at the Piccadilly, which has retained at least some of the elements of the vastly different "Y" with tables, chairs and a bar in the stalls.
The four pump boys, in overalls and jeans, and the two dinettes, in trim pink dresses and white shoes, make up a cheerful family group, with nothing to do except deliver the 21 songs, mostly written by Jim Wann, with short narrative links of a vaguely philosophical nature which relate life as it is lived along Highway 57, somewhere in the Southern states. Existence is not very exciting, but there is a sense of contentment, a feeling that nothing is very important, least of all the long-delayed repairs to Uncle Bob's Winnebage camper.
The songs are all in the country rock idiom, a musical form which in essence runs the gamut from A to B, in other words fast or slow, and strike one more a pastiche than the genuine article. All the same, there is something unassumingly pleasant about thi little show, even the slightly ridiculous raffle for an air freshener which opens up the second half of the show and is the only piece of audience participation.
And there is no doubting the musical ability of the cast - Paul Jones as breezy Jim, who plays great blues harmonica, Brian Protheroe as taciturn L.M. doing a Jerry Lee Lewis style number about the girl from Woolworths, spindle-shanked Gary Holton, versatile Julian Littman, Kiki Dee, charismatic in voice if not personality, and Carlene Carter, the only genuine American of the lot.