Some Mothers Do ’ave ’em by Guy Unsworth: Theatre Royal Nottingham: till 14/3/20 & tour: 4****. Alan Geary

Some Mothers Do ’ave ’em, by Guy Unsworth
Theatre Royal

Runs: 2h 0m: one interval: till 14 March

The perfect pick-me-up to the welter of grim news we’ve been having lately

The hit seventies television sitcom, Some Mothers Do ‘ave ‘em is back, as a stage play. And a packed press night audience at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal loved it. For a variety of reasons, big screen and stage adaptations of TV successes have routinely failed. But this one certainly does not. A major explanation for sure is that Joe Pasquale isn’t trying to do a Michael Crawford (bless him): instead he interprets the script for himself – and he’s hilarious.

And what a script. It’s tightly written, full of verbal gymnastics and malapropisms. “That telephone bill is increasing excrementally” says Frank. And about his having been a lone beneficiary in a will: “As the only child, I was the heir-sole of the family.”

The play is wonderfully dated. It’s not just a matter of the clever and well observed – and unpredictably jumpy – house interior set. A Catholic priest is warm and loveable (and realistic), the policeman is tall and properly uniformed, and Betty is a stay-at-home housewife who wears a dress.

Everyone does the caper full justice. Not only Pasquale, with his trademark glasses, silly squeaky voice, brilliant timing, and terrific ability to do those wandering and strangely logical monologues. Your student of comedy might appreciate his handling of the sort of delayed-action gag which might have been invented by Spike Milligan.

Sarah Earnshaw is a splendid long-suffering but affectionate Betty. And David Shaw-Parker as Father O’Hara, complete with Irish accent, would pass as a real priest in any Catholic church anywhere. Supporting actors are likewise excellent.

To be fair, the house destruction at the end is a shade over-done, but nothing else is. And at just two hours the play is never ever an over-stretched sitcom episode outstaying its welcome. It’s the perfect pick-me-up to the welter of grim news we’ve been having lately.


Frank Spencer: Joe Pasquale
Betty Spencer: Sarah Earnshaw
Mrs Fisher: Susie Blake
Mr Luscombe/Mr Worthington: Moray Treadwell
Father O’Hara: David Shaw-Parker
Desmond/Constable/US Frank Spencer: Ben Watson
Female Understudy: Jayne Ashley
Male Understudy: Peter F Gardiner

Director: Guy Unsworth
Set Designer: Simon Higlett
Lighting Designer: Matt Haskins
Sound Designer: Ian Horrocks-Taylor
Movement Director: Lucy Cullingford
Choreographer: Jenny Arnold
Stunt Co-ordinator: Kev McCurdy

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