It may be the original pub theatre and a respected powerhouse of new writing, but every summer the Bush Theatre likes to let its hair down with a bit of fun, and this year it's found a blinder in stand-up comedian Russell Kane's play with songs by Michael Bruce. Arriving at the Bush as the last leg of a tour, The Great British Country Fête takes us to the Suffolk village of Upham, and designer Fly Davis has turned the room into a field on a sunny day - I liked funny little details like the clouds on the wall being made of doilies. Farmer Joe (Graham Lappin) has been approached by Tesco to sell Cameltowe Farm for a new supermarket. In resisting their offer, he's launched this country Fête to prove that the whole village is behind him in wanting to keep their unique country ways. That's pretty much all there is story-wise but this 75-minute show feels packed regardless.
Katie Brayben and Gabriel Vick play all the other characters, and the three actors also play all the instruments - including, sometimes, taking over the piano from each other mid-song. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and carry you through a slightly annoying first song that overuses the fact that the village has been named "Upham" so it can rhyme with "stick it up'em," a joke that just about works once, not as the basis for an entire song. Fortunately that was the only real niggle and things start going wrong for Farmer Joe when we meet the villagers who seem to prove all the worst things about the countryside, starting with the appearance of some racist jam (white grape a specialty; no blackcurrant under any circumstances.) There's also a female vicar who gets a bit too excited around young boys and a couple of trustafarians who haven't quite worked out that it's the female goat they should be milking. Bruce's songs are fun and energetically performed, the best probably being the coming-out song from Farmer Joe's gay son with a passion for hair-straighteners (a bit ironic considering it's the curly-haired Vick performing this) and this song also gets a disco remix as an encore. Anthea Williams' production is fast-paced, energetic and affectionate, and if you can't get swept up in something as silly and fun as this then there's no helping you.
The Great British Country Fête by Russell Kane and Michael Bruce is booking until the 14th of August at the Bush Theatre.