Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, 4****, London


by Guy Unsworth.
Based on the TV series by Raymond Allen.


Richmond Theatre, Richmond, London TW9 1QJ to 9 March 2018.
Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.20pm and touring until 28 July details

Runs 2 hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7651.
Review: William Russell 7 March.

The funniest show in town

Old sit coms can take the breath away – comedy does not always wear well or fit in with the changing times. Alf Garnett is invariably cited, but Some Mother’s Do ‘ave ‘em is also a case in point – not to mention Are You Being Served, George and Mildred and Rising Damp. The sit com ran from 1973 to 1978 and “Ooh Betty” – the hapless Frank’s response to one of the disasters which befell him became a national catchphrase.
The problem with the show now is that it uses two mentally challenged persons, Frank, who is always up to try something new which he is incapable of doing, and his sweet but dim wife Betty as the but of the jokes. Their married life goes from one disaster to another. Frank and Betty as played by Michael Crawford and Michelle Dotrice got away with it at the time, the stunts were spectacular, and the players were likeable. But it really is of its time and today is out of touch with what is acceptable as the butt of jokes.

This stage version based on the series focuses on Betty being pregnant and finding it impossible to tell Frank, plus his latest failure to get a job which is as a magic act.. Frank is played by the comedian Joe Pasquale, who is about 30 years too old for the role. A middle aged unemployed unemployable Frank is not actually funny, whereas dim 20 something Frank was just about possible to see as a silly boy rather than a mentally challenged adult. However it is a tribute to Pasquale’s comic skills supported by a hard working cast led by Susie Blake as his mother in law that they get away with it. Pasquale can work an audience, the audience likes him, and the evening proves very, very funny. The full house on this three day stop over at Richmond responded with delight as Frank set about destroying the set as he cooked supper, entertained mother in law and her banker boy friend, failed to grasp what Betty was trying to tell him, lost his pants and had to rush round the place in his Y fronts.

Pasquale sounds just enough like Crawford to recall the sit com, but creates his own Frank and does his own thing. Spectacular stunts are out, but he manages to create utterly satisfying comic mayhem in the course of the evening. As the furniture collapses, the kitchen explodes, the banister rail comes to pieces bit by bit, and then with a superb flourish the whole thing collapses, the things is to sit back and enjoy the goings on, including Susie Blake’s drunk act as his mother in law over indulging in his prune wine. Go with the flow. This is in every sense a really good night out for all the family.

Frank Spencer: Joe Pasquale.
Betty Spencer: Sarah Earnshaw.
Barbara Fisher: Susie Blake.
Terry Luscombe/David Worthington: Moray Treadwell.
Father O’Hara: David Shaw-Parker.
Desmond James/Constable: Chris Kiely.

Director: Guy Unsworth.
Set & Costume Design: Simon Higlett.
Lighting Design: Matt Haskins.
Sound Design: Ian Horrocks-Taylor.
Choreography: Jenny Arnold.
Stunt Co-ordinator: Kev McCurdy.

2018-03-08 14:45:54

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