Wilmas rating ***
If you find the word c**t offensive then Barking In Essex isn’t the show for you. It is used repeatedly for the first ten minutes of the show and then peppered throughout. The lady sat next to me scoffed every time the word was said and muttered ‘I don’t like that word’ under her breath. I chuckled away into my wine!
The set is wonderful. A garish, over the top living room which would give Del Boy a run for his money. I’ve not seen a set so beautifully disgusting since Abigail’s Party (also at the Wyndhams Theatre).
The story is basic, a family who have spent their son/brothers robbery money that they were supposed to be keeping safe until he got out of prison. Now the day has come where he is coming home and they only have £55 left of the loot. The family go on the run, having anyone who gets in their way killed. I hoped act one was just the calm before the storm. I wanted all hell to break loose in the second half and for the story to really take off but sadly it didn’t. It was funny but I found the scenes dragged on, with no real climax.
The casting is fantastic. Sheila Hancock, Lee Evans, Keeley Hawes and Karl Johnson (who I last saw in Noises Off), all play their parts brilliantly and the strong acting keeps this show together. I’ve never really been a fan of Lee Evans but he totally won me over in this show.
Barking In Essex has one major flaw. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of reference to Barking (quite misleading). As a Barking girl myself I was excited to hear all the references to my home town but there really weren’t any. The second act is set in Luton and I’m not even sure act 1 was supposed to be set in Barking! I am still a little confused about the relevance of the shows title.
A good, fun show, worth a watch!