Last year I went along to the Derry Playhouse to see Felicity McCalls dramatisation of the legendary voice that was Josef Locke. McCall had penned this ‘Grand Adventure’ and it showcased Locke at odds with his younger self and alter-ego throughout the musical production. It was a huge success and a delight to watch on stage.
When I recently saw that the production was now being staged at the Millennium Forum for two nights only I was happily awaiting a return visit. What I witnessed last night exceeded all my expectations. Having brought mother along first time around I did likewise second time. A huge fan of Locke’s music she was looking forward to a repeat performance. A repeat performance we did not get! Instead we got an extended vision into the life and work of the great man, Josef Locke. An extended insight into his ego, his faltering ways and his exquisite voice.
McCall had since devleoped this production and it showed in all the right ways. With the addition of a female presence, Orla Mullan certaily brought a new element to the stage. Alongside her amazing voice, she showcased a variety of female person’s, primarily that of May Devitt.
Peter Davidson excelled in his portrayal of the ‘reflective Josef’ alongside other influential males surrounding Locke in his career. Brenn Doherty once again represented ‘identity Josef’ and Locke as a young boy.
Karl McGuckin again portrayed the voice of Josef Locke and faltered not once! His rendition of ‘The Town I loved So Well’ was possibly the first time I have witnessed the forum so still. One would certainly have heard a pin dropping. The concluding applause showed the appreciation of this great ‘voice’.
Throughout this show we hear such Locke classics as ‘Hear My Song’, ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Galway Bay’ to name but a few. We get to see what life was like for Locke in Blackpool. We learn how he fled Britain as a tax exile. How he returned to his home and eventually returned to the UK.
McCall has successfully captured the life, the flambouyancy and the mischievous ways of Locke in this new theatrical production. Locke was loved by many and his ‘voice’ allowed for his forgiveness at all times.This piece by McCall is warm, witty, affectionate and exceedingly talented from start to finish.
Josef Locke, A Grand Adventure runs at Millennium Forum, Derry again tonight Saturday 24th October and then will be staged at Lyric Theatre, Belfast from Friday 13th November to Sunday 15th November. A viewing is highly recommended!