THE iconic London, red, double-decker bus has arrived in Darlington, and along with it a youthful cast of eighteen led by multi-talented performer, Ray Quinn.

And without doubt, this is a very talented company. They dance and sing with great energy and aplomb.

However, when it comes to acting and portraying the characters in the piece, their contributions are all too often reduced to little more than mugging and posturing to the audience. For this, the responsibility must fall firmly at the feet of the show’s director, Racky Plews.

And it’s a real shame. I was genuinely looking forward to this production, its shameless 1960s nostalgia, and the relief it was going to provide from the impending autumn days.

Of course it’s not Shakespeare, but surely if a story is worth telling, it’s worth telling with some integrity. And it’s a very simple story. Four boys convert a bus for cheap travel across the continent, finding love and romance on the way.

Quinn also seems oddly placed on the sidelines of the piece, sometimes quite literally. Even with Living Doll all he gets to sing is the last few bars. It’s not until late in the second half with The Young Ones (not originally in the film) and The Next Time that Quinn’s great ability to deliver a song finally comes into its own.

And it’s only with the encore medley that the company, now with Quinn at its centre, at last comes together to show us what the production really could have been.

  • Until September 29. Box Office: 01325 405405 or

Laurence Sach