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Belts are being tightened and the country’s long-suffering citizens are being told by the government that there will be fair shares for all in return for surviving Austerity Britain. Meanwhile local officials feather their own nests by taking far more than their own fair share. It is of course 1947, and having won the war Britain seems to have lost the peace, and the country is staggering under the burden of acute rationing, unemployment and the coldest winter for decades. The only bright spark on the horizon is the impending marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Twenty six years ago Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray wove this story into a hilariously funny but sharply observed comic film called A Private Function, which centered around Betty, an adorable pig, who is being illegally reared to ensure the local dignitaries can celebrate the Royal Wedding with a lavish banquet while the local population make do with Spam. Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman have brilliantly adapted and expanded this story for the stage and George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have written a deliciously infectious, toe-tapping, retro contemporary score. The result is an utterly British musical, full of eccentric characters, such as the strange odd couple, Gilbert – an evangelistic chiropodist, and Joyce – a nobody determined to be somebody; Inspector Wormold - an obsessive destroyer of illegal meat; Mother Dear – ‘She’s seventy four and ravenous’; along with a weird assortment of bullies, spivs and snobs and of course, our star, Betty the pig.