Loving the theatre as I do, what better subject for my first blog in 2013 than the first play I’ve been to see this year – Privates on Parade, by Peter Nichols, which is on in London at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Simon Russell Beale in Privates on Parade

If you’re looking for something that’s mind-improving, mentally stimulating, contemplative, plot-focused – DON’T go to see this!!

If you’re looking for something that’s really good fun and terrific entertainment – DO go to see this!! For a thoroughly enjoyable evening, Privates on Parade cannot be beaten.

The play is set against the backdrop of the Malaysian campaign at the end of the Second World War. Private Flowers is posted to the Song and Dance Unit in South East Asia, where he serves under flamboyant (understatement!) Captain Dennis. Innocent Private Flowers arrives at the unit as little more than a boy: at the end of the evening, he is a man.

Simon Russell Beale is superb as the cross-dressing Captain Dennis. His Marlene Dietrich and Vera Lynn are show-stopping. Indeed, the whole cast is excellent.

I left the theatre feeling very strongly that we should leave room in our lives for pure (or not so pure, in this case) mindless entertainment, for forgetting about the things that we really ought to be seeing or ought to be reading, and giving ourselves up to something whose value is simply that it allows you to escape the real world for a few hours of the day.

This is what a good play can do. This is what a good book can do.

May you see many wonderful plays this year and read many excellent books.

Simon Russell Beale (left) and Roger Wright, courtesy of Wikipedia