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  • Writer's picturePaul Gainey

Nanny, Bristol Old Vic Theatre

Folio Theatre’s “Nanny”, a musical play about two actors working a side gig as child carers has it all: pathos, comedy, arguments, song and dance and above all the trials and tribulations of a friendship tested to the limits in the world of nannies.

The two-hander comedy had its world premiere at the Bristol Old Vic’s Weston Studio, and taking the kids they look after to ‘Stay and Play’ classes is only a beginning for the feisty nanny duo of Amy (played by Alana Ramsey) and Leanne (Lizzie Stables).

In their spare time, they are planning to moonlight at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as a musical comedy double act. This year will surely bring their big break. With the festival fast approaching, they prepare the act during a weekly “stay and play” session in a church hall as they nanny the children of wealthy north London mums.

The duo quickly establish their characters: bride-to-be Amy is wealthy, confident and ambitious, while Leanne is poor, forgetful and ‘has issues with pleasing people.’

Themes worked into the narrative by the two players, co-writers alongside director Jenny Rainsford, range over friendship, rising above troubled times, falling out, making up, and in the end, remaining true to yourself.

At the start, it focuses on largely unsuccessful attempts by the duo to get their act together, while keeping an eye on the neither-seen-nor-heard offstage children. There is more depth to come as conflicts build over Amy’s hen night and Leanne moving away to nanny in New York.

As the show progresses themes of friendship and aspiration begin to emerge which lead to moments of poignancy that are played with a light touch.

All this is interspersed by a mix of songs ranging from praise for ‘The Perfect Mum’ and pleasure at a financial bonus that leaves Leanne ‘Quids In’, to the lament that ‘Everything I Do is a Failure’. The piano accompaniment, played from the edge of the stage by the show’s composer Matthew Floyd Jones, who doubles as musical director. He also wrote the music for the wonderful comedy/musical ‘Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder.’

Wiltshire-based Folio Theatre, now in its 10th year, combines the asset of being female-led with promoting new writing. It is taking “Nanny” from the Bristol Old Vic to the Plymouth Theatre Royal.

Nanny’s episodic nature allows it to move at a brisk pace and the performances are charming.

Alana Ramsey and Lizzie Stables are a delightful double-act with the script – witty, sharp, and observant – giving them scope to unleash their talents.

At Bristol Old Vic until 10 February then at Theatre Royal Plymouth, 27-28 February.

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