Wednesday, 4 March 2020

REVIEW: Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley

You could be forgiven for assuming that the stage show of the classic 70’s sitcom ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’ would stick so closely to its television roots that it could miss the mark with the new age, comedy loving, audiences of 2020 but you would be wrong. 

The stage adaptation surrounding a day in the life of the, much loved, chaotic, and unintentionally witty Frank Spencer (complete with signature beret and trench coat) is a laugh a minute from start to finish. 

Written by Guy Unsworth & Raymond Allen and directed by Guy Unsworth himself, the production begins its 2020 tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley. The show begins with the classic theme tune which pays homage to the original TV series. The theatrical revival begins much like the 1970’s episodes. The vicar is coming round, Frank’s had another failed day looking for work and his loving but worrier wife Betty is at home with big news that she is expecting.

The script is full of double entendres and is perhaps a little more risqué than some might have expected. The show plays out like a typical farce of its time and although it appears to start slowly the audience are soon on a rollercoaster ride. Despite the majority of the original TV viewers being primarily 50 and above the show felt incredibly suitable for most ages. The audience are left in complete disbelief as they watch an evening at the Spencer’s descend further and further into chaos as Betty tries to tell Frank she is pregnant, Frank pursues a career in magic and the in laws, the vicar and the BBC all join in for the ride. 

Joe Pasquale is, without a doubt, made for this role and it’s hard to imagine anyone else being able to carry it off quite so brilliantly. Pasquale is fantastic in channelling the adored characteristics of Michael Crawford’s original whilst still feeding his own unique style of frantic comedy in. His signature high pitched voice adds extra merit to some of the impressive word play he delivers along with numerous misinterpreted innuendos. 

The supporting cast were strong and all played their parts with ease. Sarah Earnshaw was endearing as Frank’s wife Betty. Moray Treadwell & David Shaw-Parker were effortlessly hilarious as their characters became entwined in the Spencer’s day of havoc. For this performance the role of Betty’s drunken mother, Mrs Fisher (usually Susie Blake), was played by understudy Jayne Ashley whose performance was admirable given the obvious age gap of the actresses. 

At first glance the show's set, designed by Simon Higlett, felt like a classic farce interior but as the show went on we were invited into various areas of their home and shown an abundance of Frank Spencer's ‘DIY’ projects. This ultimately culminated in one fantastically messy and disastrous ending in which the set was transformed imaginatively and unexpectedly. Special mention must go to the backstage teams who provided numerous perfectly timed mishaps involving the cast’s surroundings. 

The highlight of the whole performance had to be the surprise dance routine complete with 3 Frank Spencers, almost completely out of place within the storyline yet perfectly fitting. A triumph for choreographer Jenny Arnold. 

If you’re a fan of classic retro comedy or enjoy watching things go awry it is an absolute must see. A frankly excellent adaptation of a classic which feels fresh and modern whilst retaining all of the beauty of its time.

Review by Alyssa Tuck

Rating: ★★★★ 

Seat: Stalls N36
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