Liam Rudden: It’s street theatre with a tan

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SWELTERING in a blistering 88 degrees Fahrenheit or, if you prefer, 31 degrees Celsius in new money, I found myself being bused around Pimlico in a London Routemaster on Saturday.

Even with the iconic open back door there was scant breeze to take the edge off the heat.

The journey was part of a musical promenade production of Passport To Pimlico, one of my all-time favourite films, which you’ll already know if you follow me on Twitter.

Released in 1949, Passport To Pimlico is arguably the best of the Ealing Comedies, and stars Stanley Holloway, Margaret Rutherford and Hermione Baddeley.

The story? When an unexploded WW2 bomb is detonated, it reveals buried treasure and a diktat pronouncing Pimlico as part of the Duchy of Burgundy, after which the people of Pimlico declare independence, announcing the right to be Burgundian.

Starting in Peabody Avenue, an award-winning housing development built, appropriately enough, on an old Blitz bomb site, the musical continued on the bus, which transported the audience to various locations around the area where the action unfolded.

In a strong cast, stand-out performances came from Martin Johnston as Arthur Pemberton, who did the impossible by making the Stanley Holloway role his own; the brilliant Katherine Moraz as Edie Randell, the part played by Hermione Baddeley, was endearing and wonderfully knowing (you might have seen Katherine as one of the Bad Idea Bears in Avenue Q, at the Playhouse); while Peter Caulfield, as bank manager Mr Wix, kept the production moving along effortlessly as the temperature soared.

Interactive and immersive, it’s telling that despite the Mediterranean conditions and a near four-hour running time (ensuring everyone got a tan) Passport To Pimlico held its audience throughout.

It got me thinking. There must be a film set in Edinburgh (other than Trainspotting or The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) that could be given the al fresco musical treatment...

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