Theatre review: The Gates, Edinburgh

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IT’S LONG, it’s messy, and its narrative is often all over the place, but all the same, Glasgay! audiences are in for a treat when Andrew Cruickshank and Rachel Jury’s vivid new musical reaches the city’s Classic Grand on Wednesday.

Summerhall

****

Presented by a pro-am cast of 25 in fabulous vintage costume – including the former MSP Rosie Kane, in fine cabaret form – the story is set around the legendary Chelsea night-club in London, The Gateways.

The Gates, as it was known, was an underground lesbian meeting-place that enjoyed its heyday in the glamorous but repressive 1950s – the decade which provides the backdrop for Jury’s romantic story of a doomed love-affair between a young Gates regular and a previously straight gangster’s moll.

It is also the backdrop for Cruickshank’s astonishing score, which features almost 20 new songs, many of them with a gorgeous, doomed, jazz-blues intonation that perfectly fits the theme.

The Gates is, to put it gently, far from perfect. The central love-story – between Seweryna Aga Dudzinska’s stunning Jo, and Jennifer Dempster’s gorgeous Judy – is predictable to a fault.

The show is oddly-structured, poorly-paced and much too long. Like any team of musical writers, Jury and Cruickshank now need to take a deep breath, and cut at least four or five songs.

At its core, though, this show has a great setting, an important tale to tell, half-a-dozen superb songs, exciting crowd scenes, and a handful of performances with real star quality.

I can think of several world-beating musicals that have started life with less, and gone on to global success.