The 1970’s was an era famous for ABBA, handlebar moustaches and revolutionary television sitcoms that set a standard for years to come. Amongst such classics as ‘Are You Being Served?’, ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘Porridge’ was the creation of ‘Frank Spencer’ in ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em’. A programme about a hapless, loveable yet idiotic character and his long suffering wife ‘Betty’. Guy Unsworth’s new theatrical farce pays tribute to Raymond Allen’s original TV show, with Joe Pasquale attempting to fill Michael Crawford’s very large boots. The outcome is a saturated, underdeveloped and irrelevant evening of theatre.
Although this piece had barrels of potential, it failed to follow through and fulfil some comic nuggets that seemed somewhat obvious. If comedy is tragedy turned on its head, this piece should have been a golden ticket to success, however the production simply failed to tick the boxes. There was even a bookcase balanced on a set of stairs early on in the show that I was waiting to fall for the entire performance, to no avail.
Although most of the evening’s performances were good, one of the biggest problems is Pasquale’s teeth chattering characterisation. Pasquale’s attempts to recreate and pay homage to Crawford’s nuances and idiosyncrasies were futile and instead of creating his own character it felt somewhat like a bad mimic at a fancy dress party. Frank Spencer is a hopeless case who is as stupid as he is loveable, but Pasquale’s character was in on all the jokes with a wink and a nudge from offset that felt false.
Perhaps the Writer and Director Guy Unsworth should have allowed a separate professional to direct in order to gain another opinion. Too many cooks do spoil the broth, but the potential for this play is too great to have made it closer akin to a cheap pantomime.
With some development, this piece could have had the success of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ with the fan base of the original series, however with a failure to communicate with a newer audience I’m afraid the piece feels unable to progress past the theme tune played in homage at the very beginning.
Reviewed by Jimmy Richards
Photo: Scott Rylander