A reminder of how we found entertainment before cinema, then soaps and "Big Brother", brought quality into our lives. At the Music Hall Marie Lloyd endeared when young with her saucy routines - gradually, though, to alienate with a succession of scandals and husbands, the third only half her age.
Jessie Wallace impresses as earthy Marie - savouring the acclaim, defiant when criticized. Richard Armitage and Matthew Marsh are rather overshadowed as the first two husbands, as were their real life counterparts. Lee Williams is good as her gay dresser, more loyal than she sometimes deserved. Sadly the production is knocked off balance by the linking "Show Man". There is no denying actor Shaun Parks' considerable talent, but the "wink,wink, nudge, nudge" character seemed contrived and pretentious and, to be honest, a bit irritating.
The modest bonuses contain interesting revelations (Marie's makeup sabotaged with powdered glass; a rival, Belle, destined to marry, then be murdered by, Dr. Crippen).
On the whole, a quite entertaining glimpse of the escapism which in those times helped make life more bearable. The atmosphere of the Music Hall has effectively been recreated. This is Jessie Wallace's show and she makes the most of it.