SOMEWHERE over the rainbow, bluebirds fly… but not without an awful lot of drink, drugs, cigarettes, bullying, self-pity and raw emotion, according to playwright Peter Quilter’s painfully funny view of the last days of Judy Garland.

Or, as she puts it about the uppers and downers fed to her at MGM: “No wonder I skipped down the Yellow Brick Road. I could have flown down it.”

Much of the debunking of one of our showbiz icons is down to a torrent de force from Tracie Bennett, pictured, who turns the theft and consumption of a friend’s cocker spaniel’s mange tablets into a stunning piece of comic timing. No other drugs were available in Garland’s vain attempt to play five weeks at London’s The Talk of the Town without the wrong sort of publicity.

Hilton McRae plays Anthony, one of Garland’s long-suffering pianists and music arrangers.

Here, Quilter offers an insight into the gay male obsession with the star. “Why would she need a heterosexual man when there was unconditional love from them on offer?”.

Her derided macho choice was Mickey Deans (Norman Bowman), who made the unfortunate decision to become husband number five.

Both are watchable foils for Garlandesque outbursts.

Robert Maskell plays an insightful BBC interviewer with the loudest jumper on radio.

But what we’re really here for is the songs, and 16 of her classics are touched on in a two-act production full of snappy scenes, as the action ebbs and flows between venue and hotel suite.

Here, I feel the performance is at its weakest because Bennett knows how to beautifully belt out the big numbers, but never quite finds the little girl lost on stage who so touched our hearts and made us cry. Those ballads.

That sincerity. This will continue to outshine the dramas of a drug-addled diva.

􀁧 Runs until Saturday. Tickets: £12-£30. Box Office: 08448- 112-121