REVIEW: Heartbeat, New Victoria Theatre

The hit ITV show arrives on the stage for a short UK tour – but can it prove as popular in the theatre as it is on screen? 

David Lonsdale & Steven Blakeley Heartbeat
David Lonsdale and Steven Blakeley in Heartbeat. 

There is always a huge pressure on producers when recreating a beloved television programme or film for the stage and it is very evident that Heartbeat really feels this pressure.

Set for the majority of the time in the Aidensfield Arms, the production sees many of the beloved characters from the show given new life in an entirely new story written by original cast member David Lonsdale.

While Heartbeat blends many of the elements of the television programme that audiences will recognise – such as the blending of comedy scenes with a hint of drama and the use of 60’s music throughout, it feels as though it is lacking in intent and direction.

Director Keith Myers has attempted to stage a decent production of a beloved production but sadly it doesn’t quite come off. The set is quite obviously false, despite the clever mechanics that turn the pub into other locations, there isn’t enough of the music involved and even the characters don’t quite seem to have enough depth about them.

Where it does succeed is in bringing cast members David Lonsdale (David) and Steven Blakeley (PC Geoff) together in scenes, adding some comedy to proceedings that lifts the show. Both know their parts well – hence why their chemistry together is so strong. There is also a great turn from Carly Cook as the confident and forward Gina and David Horne as Bernie, who brings to mind Eeyore in his attitude to life.

The addition of several new characters helps to develop the drama side of the production – but doesn’t quite pull it off as effectively as it could, despite the threat of a bomb going off in the local pub.

The main issue with Heartbeat is the awkwardness about the production that suggests that even the cast aren’t fully comfortable with what they are performing. It needs further development.

It won’t be to everybody’s taste – particularly if you haven’t seen the television programme, but if you are a die hard fan, you might be delighted to see David Lonsdale and Steven Blakeley reprising their roles.

Heartbeat runs at the New Victoria Theatre until the 4th June. To book tickets visit: ATG Tickets.

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