Every once in a while, a new musical comes along that is so compelling you want to run around and scream about it to your friends. Milky Peaks gained a deserving standing ovation on its press night, and I reckon it’ll be gaining many more.
The small Welsh town of Milky Peaks is on the brink of ruin, but can it be saved by the most unlikely of heroes? This fantastical musical brings together drag queens, community spirit, fascists and My Fair Lady. It’s as chaotic as it sounds but in the best way.
Composer and writer, Seiriol Davies (How to Win Against History) also stars as our young wannabe hero, Dewi. Portrayed with a hilarious tongue-in-cheek naivety and a knowing grin, Davies’ charisma is enticing from the get-go. Whilst searching for his “people”, Dewi comes across the local down-and-out drag queen. Played by Matthew Blake, (Three Day Millionaire) the self-deprecating Ms Pariah Carey is so damn lovable. The journey to find her inner power, (in a way I did not see coming) showcases Blakes’ ability to transfix an audience with expert comic timing and vocals to match.
It’s not all wacky and witty social commentary, as true heartfelt moments come from The Mother. The perfect stereotype of the maternal mentor, The Mother is a parodic portrayal of a woman trying to break free of the expectations put on her. Lisa Jên Brown (Praxis Makes Perfect) brings an abundance of warmth to the part, whilst also bringing in the laughs when Mother naturally breaks under the pressure.
Miriam O’Brien (Curtain Up!) captivates as Rhombus, the “Britain’s Best Town” judge with a hidden agenda. O’Brien executes insane vocal riffs with a commanding presence and frankly, I could not get enough of her onstage. Sophie Winter (Jude Starbeam and the Shadow Planet) and Tanya Bridgeman (Shoes to Fill) are both entertaining in their roles as Linda Maria and Alun, respectively. Winter impresses with flamboyant dramatics and humour, whilst Bridgeman brings an amusing swagger to cis white man, Alun.
Completing the cast is Dylan Townley (Austentatious) as the Bar and the Wall. Having Townley play the piano (he is also Musical Director), and pop in and out of the action makes for some epic one-liners. This is a true ensemble piece, with the actors welcoming us in as a Greek Chorus, talking nonsensical words before taking on their other roles. The intimate space of Theatr Clwyd lends well to this, as the players interact and intimidate the audience whilst clumsily taking us from one part of the story to the next.
Not every song is the most memorable, but I am still humming a few tunes the following day (it isn’t appropriate to be singing some of the lyrics in public). A soundtrack of folk, pop and classic musical theatre accompany amusing lyrics commenting on anything from a trip to the gay club to the poen (pain) of Welsh people placating the English.
As a contrast to the fun and frolicking plot, the scenery and costumes mimic the slate-like ruins of Snowdonia. There are some hilarious costume changes for the judges and Pariah that are extremely enjoyable.
Milky Peaks does a tremendous job of poking fun whilst also remaining patriotic. Hearing true Welsh accents and songs partly sung in the language is a refreshing surprise, and even better are the little jabs and jokes at the locals’ expense. It’s utterly ridiculous but does not apologise for it. Nor does it need to!
Milky Peaks continues at Theatr Clwyd until April 22nd, https://www.theatrclwyd.com/event/milky-peaks-1
Reviewer: Coral Mourant
Reviewed: 7th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★