Miss Nightingale continues at The Vaults, London until 20 May.
Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Written and directed by Matthew Bugg, Miss Nightingale is a showcase of enormous talent and a fantastic display of new writing.
The show follows the story of witty nurse Maggie Brown (played by Tamar Broadbent) who is put in the spotlight and turned into a star by the charming Sir Frank (Nicholas Coutu-Langmead).
However, at the core of the story is the gay love story between Sir Frank and George (Conor O’Kane) as they hide their love in fear of the consequences of being discovered.
The book is both witty and quick as well as desperately sad. The score is light, punchy and beautifully written and Bugg’s work as a writer and director is flawless.
The six superb actors are doubly talented, also accompanying themselves on piano, banjo, viola, violin, ukulele, drums, percussion, saxophone, clarinet, double bass and accordion. This, combined with the smooth harmonies, makes the score both smooth and vivacious in equal measures.
As no stranger to comedy, Broadbent performs Miss Nightingale’s tongue-in-cheek numbers brilliantly and has the audience in stitches.
She is effortlessly funny and her performance is the perfect relief from the darker love story. A real highlight is Broadbent’s eye-watering rendition of ‘Pussy in the Door’.
O’Kane gives a standout performance as George. His dry comic timing is spot on and the raw passion he delivers in the story is heartbreaking. Coutu-Langmead is charming as Sir Frank and Niall Kerrigan is suitably slimy as Tom.
Dressed by Carla Goodman, the stage is both intimate and bold and the elaborate costumes are impressive.
These are complemented by the lighting – Callum Macdonald’s design bounces off the costumes with enough punch to match the score.
Miss Nightingale is a triumphant piece bursting with passion. It also challenges the unfair prejudice surrounding the love at the heart of its story.
The musical champions many things, but the loudest cheer goes to the excellent musical that Bugg has created.