National Theatre Wales presentation of Katherine Chandler’s tribute to the NHS and its volunteers, Peggy’s Song opened its autumn tour at Newport’s Riverfront Studio on Wednesday evening.
Originally commissioned as part of National Theatre Wales NHS70 festival, Peggy’s Song is a thought provoking, touching monologue that explores a friendship between volunteer hospital radio DJ Danny Walkman and outspoken hospital patient, Peggy.
One day, after completing his radio show at St Bevan’s Hospital, Danny encounters Peggy in the Garden of Hope. They have absolutely nothing in common, but Danny’s ability to get people to tell him their favourite song usually works wonders. Not so with Peggy, who thinks Danny should get a proper job. Danny isn’t put off so easily and when Peggy sets him a challenge to guess her favourite song with no clues whatsoever, it’s a race against time for Danny to find, and play Peggy’s song.
Sat at a DJ desk, flanked with cuddly toys and memorabilia, Christian Patterson as Danny Walkman plays the requests, sets the riddles and creates the jingles for the patients of St Bevans Hospital with a creative humour like the late Kenny Everett. The role of a DJ interacts with Danny’s own address to the audience, as he describes and impersonates his volunteer colleagues at the hospital. Trolley man Wilfred, WI Pam, Midnight Mike and Anjan.
As the monologue continues, Danny’s own insecurities filter through. Recently bereaved it becomes clear Danny’s sole purpose is making people happy through playing music. However, Peggy’s refusal to impart her favourite song to him stops him in his tracks, causing him to think a little about delving deeper in his ability to help others while facing up to his own personal issues.
Christian Patterson brings Katherine Chandler’s monologue to life with interpretations of a variety of characters and scenarios, resulting in an accessible, emotional but frequently funny story, while sensitively taking in subjects such as mental health, bereavement and homelessness. The play also delves a little deeper into how we see ourselves as well as others and that how sometimes meeting someone more than halfway can make a difference in our lives.
Featuring a soundtrack that includes pop classics from Amy Winehouse, David Bowie and George Michael, Peggy’s Song entertains and educates as a character-driven monologue performance.
National Theatre Wales’ Peggy’s Song plays at venues in Pontardawe, Brecon, Porthcawl, Newtown, Swansea, Cardiff, Abergavenny, Blackwood, Milford Haven, Llanelli and Carmarthen until October 2019. For tickets, visit https://www.nationaltheatrewales.org/ Age Guidance 14 +
All photos by Glenn Edwards