What a hoot!
Featured performer Jay James-Moody, the artistic director of Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre, has adapted (to the present day) and directs the musical play by Alan Jay Lerner to great effect.
Dr Mark Bruckner (Blake Bowden) is a strictly evidence-based psychiatrist who has recently lost his wife.
Returning to practice, he has a chance meeting with a most unusual person in David/Daisy Gamble (Jay-James Moody).
Photos by David Hooley
Gamble – who is engaged to the humourless, conservative Warren (James Haxby) – takes an immediate shine to the good doctor.
In his early 30s, Gamble would dearly love to kick his smoking habit.
He has a sixth sense, speaks at the rate of knots, can make plants grow at breakneck speed, isn’t appreciated for who he is and may have been reincarnated.
Fascinated, in the name of research, Dr Bruckner asks him whether he would mind if he explored Gamble’s background by hypnotising him.
Gamble doesn’t object, so Dr Bruckner proceeds, only to discover that 100 years ago he was a 25-year-old, intelligent, no-nonsense woman by the name of Melinda Welles (Madeleine Jones).
Welles was married to serial philanderer and artist Edward (James Haxby).
The more Dr Bruckner hears and sees from Gamble and Welles, the more he is intrigued and besotted.
Those in the know – including his secretary Mrs Hatch (Billie Palin) and sister (and fellow psychiatrist) Connie (Natalie Abbott) – are alarmed at the route the doctor has taken.
At risk is his entire career and all he has achieved.
Two songs cut from the original 1965 Broadway run have been restored and recontextualised, while three numbers written for the 1970 Barbra Streisand film have also been inserted.
The music has been newly orchestrated and arranged for piano, bass, drums and cello by Natalya Aynsley.
The result of the “tinkering” is unmistakably triumphant.
It is such a joyful and fun production, characterised by wonderful performances with actors who possess melodic voices.
Foremost among them is Jay James-Moody, who dazzles throughout with his mannerisms. He also has a golden set of pipes.
Blake Bowden is wonderful as the conflicted psychiatrist, who has never encountered a patient like David/Daisy. He also stands out vocally.
But the vocal proclivity doesn’t end there.
Madeleine Jones shines as a not to be messed with feminist, who knows how to stand on her own two feet.
Also accomplished in two roles – that of Gamble’s nearest and dearest, and Welles husband – is James Haxby.
They are ably supported by the three other cast members – all of whom, including Lincoln Elliot, who I have not yet mentioned – fill multiple roles.
Colourful faux flowers become mainstays in a creative and utilitarian library-like set conceptualised by Michael Hankin and realised by Bella Rose Saltearn.
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever affords laughter and hijinks aplenty.
It is a thoroughly enjoyable romp that poses the question just how open are we to left of centre thinking from mainstream rationalists?
Two hours, plus a 20-minute interval, it is playing at Seymour Centre until 15th April, 2023.