Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em stays at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 19 May – to book tickets follow the link: Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Star rating: ****

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em was a television favourite of mine and I admire the work of both Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice, therefore the idea of a new cast in a stage version was one I struggled with. However, I was certainly willing to watch the show with an open mind and with Joe Pasquale at the helm as Frank, I felt it might just work.

I’m happy to report that I enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining evening at the theatre, it’s a laugh-a-minute comedy bonanza with innovative staging which almost steals the show by itself.

Guy Unsworth has written the ‘new’ script and based it on the original scripts by Raymond Allen, so there are elements of the famous television episodes peppered with new material. Joe Pasquale looks the part with the trench coat and beret, his mannerisms are similar to those associated with the original Frank, however he puts his own stamp on the role. The fact that Pasquale is an established comedian enhanced his characterisation and he even attempted a stunt or two, without the signature black gloves which Crawford was renowned for!

The story follows Betty’s (Sarah Earnshaw) discovery that she’s expecting a baby, Frank’s unemployed again and the local Vicar (David Shaw-Parker), Betty’s mum (Susie Blake) and her new chap, David Worthington (Moray Treadwell) are all on the scene too. The Vicar is permanently baffled, as most are in the company of Frank. Betty’s mum Barbara is getting stuck into Frank’s late mum’s homemade wine, while her new man is of particular interest to Frank because he’s a Bank Manager! With the added excitement of an impending visit from the BBC who intend to film the Spencers for a forthcoming talent show, the chaos, mayhem and sheer madness is overt and thoroughly slapstick from the outset.

The entire cast are a tight knit unit who each support one another superbly as the set is literally falling down around them. In particular, there is a stand-out performance from Susie Blake as Barbara, her facial expressions alone had me weeping tears of laughter. Blake’s physical comedy ability was a match for Pasquale’s too which was an inspired combination in the scenes they had together.

Does this work as a stage show? A resounding yes, the story lends itself to the stage and has been cleverly and intricately written. It’s also notable that Joe Pasquale is not trying to impersonate Michael Crawford, therefore it was engaging to watch a fresh take on a much-loved character. At times it seemed like some of the easy chemistry I’d expect to see between Frank and Betty was lacking, perhaps this is where my knowledge of the television version was a hindrance for me personally as a viewer. However on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed a good belly-laugh courtesy of a classic piece of comedy.

Photo Credits: Scott Rylander

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Mrs Brown’s Boys, New Year’s Day 2017 ~ Episode Review

A fine follow up to Christmas Day’s episode with a few too many dated jokes, but Brendan O’Carroll is rather adept at making them seem shiny and new again and they blend in with the general theme of the show.

Physical comedy is very much the order of the day again with Winnie (Eilish O’Carroll) sending Agnes (Brendan O’Carroll) flying into a box simply by entering the kitchen. There is also more mayhem to come after some rather dubious brownies are tested. In the meantime, Cathy (Jennifer Gibney) has a French boyfriend called Gaston (Robbie Telfer), for whom Mrs Brown is trying to find the phrase in French for “that’s nice!”. Which, as fans of the show know, speaks volumes in Agnes’s language! I think we can all see that Gaston is a bit of a rotter, though. Poor Cathy knows how to pick ’em!

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 23/12/2016 - Programme Name: Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas and New Year Special 2016 - TX: 01/01/2017 - Episode: Mrs Brown's Boys New Year Special 2016 (No. 2 - New Year) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Cathy Brown (JENNIFER GIBNEY), Gaston (ROBBIE TELFER), Agnes Brown (BRENDAN O'CARROLL) - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: Alan Peebles
Picture Shows: (L-R) Cathy Brown (JENNIFER GIBNEY), Gaston (ROBBIE TELFER), Agnes Brown (BRENDAN O’CARROLL) – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: Alan Peebles

Then there’s Betty (Amanda Woods) who has shown concern that Bono (Jamie O’Carroll) is being bullied at school. Is Agnes going to let this lie? Not on your nelly! Despite Maria’s (Fiona O’Carroll) warning to let her mother handle it from the board point of view, Agnes is ready to steam in there. This makes way for the arrival of Annette Curtain (Di Dougherty) who’s little boy is bullying Bono. Annette Curtain is a classic old gag but it works brilliantly, especially when Marijuana is consumed by Betty, Annette, Mrs Brown and the Father in a batch of brownies. Marijuana which has been prescribed for Grandad (Dermot O’Neill), and its potency not only has Betty and Annette declaring their love for one another, but also sees Agnes having fun on Grandad’s stair lift!

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 23/12/2016 - Programme Name: Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas and New Year Special 2016 - TX: 01/01/2017 - Episode: Mrs Brown's Boys New Year Special 2016 (No. 2 - New Year) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Mark Brown (PAT SHIELDS), Betty Brown (AMANDA WOODS) - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: Alan Peebles
Picture Shows: (L-R) Mark Brown (PAT SHIELDS), Betty Brown (AMANDA WOODS) – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: Alan Peebles

Hillary, Maria’s mother (Susie Blake) is present during the brownie fiasco and as she doesn’t eat chocolate she doesn’t partake. Who’s with me in thinking that this is a pity, Hillary on Marijuana would have been quite something! I still love the mutual contempt that she and Agnes have for each other though.

Aside from the madness there, Betty, Maria, Buster (Danny O’Carroll) and Dermot (Paddy Houlihan) have dressed as The Flintstones as part of a promotions gig and Rory (Rory Cowan) and Dino (Gary Hollywood) are sulking with one another again.

The Brown family may seem like lunatics and no-hopers in Gaston’s eyes, but their madcap antics never fail to put a smile on my face. With so little to laugh at in 2016, thank heavens that this brilliant instalment has started 2017 off nicely. That’s nice! Oh and I won’t let anybody take away my smile…

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