The Slide, Music and lyrics: Paul Heaton and Dave Rotheray, Book by Adrian Davis

The Slide features Beautiful South numbers, superbly performed by a vibrant, talented, well costumed cast. The show, premièred at New College's Phoenix Theatre, Swindon, last week, was staged imaginatively, with an interesting set, designed by David Wicks, and effective lighting. The strobe, which suggested emotional turmoil, was rather overdone, though.

A children's playground slide, park bench and ornamental pool occupied centre stage, with a consulting room at the same level, and a raised living room. On the opposite side of the stage, also at higher level, was a pub.

The three main characters, Badwick (known as Baddie), Anthony and Patrick are flatmates in a northern university town. Despite being mature students all three appear remarkably callow and juvenile. Patrick (Mark Newton) a post-graduate seeking a Doctorate in psychiatry, is incredibly naïve. while Baddie slides inexorably into alcoholism and Anthony (a law student), is an insatiable womaniser.

The show details the characters encountered by the three lads over a two year period dominated by booze, lust and indolence. The girls, Alison Canning (Janice), Hannah Baker (Kim), Louise Roche (Fiona), and the twins Sarah Covey and Frances Young delivered some splendid raunchy routines.

Peter Kent gave a wonderful, gravelly solo performance of Liar's Bar; Stuart Dark was the outrageously gay Professor Hegg. Keith Tyler as Vice-Chancellor officiated at the ultimate, orderly graduation. But despite that celebration, Baddie was dead, dreams had crumbled and poignancy prevailed.

Stella Taylor