Hull New Theatre – until 30th June 2018
Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams
As the theme music started I was transported back to my childhood sitting room in the 1970’s, waiting with glee for the next episode of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em to start, except last night I was in Hull New Theatre and everything was live and in technicolor and not on a small black and white TV in the corner of the room! I settled down to laugh and to be entertained and I wasn’t disappointed
Guy Unsworth has very cleverly adapted and directed Raymond Allen’s TV series for the stage, and from the start Joe Pasquale makes the character of Frank Spencer his very own. The play is still set in the 1970’s and the scenery and costumes are spot on – sadly life did really look like that and we really did wear those clothes.
The chaos, that inevitably revolves around Frank Spencer, take place in Frank and Betty’s house as Betty struggles to find the way to tell Frank that she is pregnant. Cue the rest of the cast knowing the secret and being at complete cross purposes, add in a visit from a BBC producer to see Frank’s magic act and Frank trying to cook supper and generally look after everyone and you have a night of laughter.
As the play all takes place in Frank and Betty’s home there are none of the huge stunts that you see in the TV series. However the play does not suffer from this as the timing and delivery of the many mishaps are superb and the dialogue is slick and very clever and full of throw away lines like Frank’s “I’m the heir sole of the family”. Be careful to listen very carefully (as you are laughing) or you will miss some absolute gems.
Joe Pasquale is outstanding as Frank Spencer, his timing is excellent, his delivery of some very long and convoluted Frank Spencer sentences incredible and his stunts are fab! He carries the play superbly and to my mind is a gentler, more caring Frank. Joe’s Frank Spencer is clearly a man who is just trying to please everyone and do the best he can, admittedly with rather worrying consequences!
Susie Blake as Barbara Fisher, Betty’s Mother is excellent, and her descent into drunkeness is a joy to watch! She adds beautifully to the misunderstandings, whilst despairing of her daughter’s choice of husband.
Sarah Earnshaw (Betty), David Shaw-Parker (Father O’Hara) Moray Treadwell (Terry Lumscombe/David Worthington) and Chris Kiely (Desmond James/Constable) all play their parts to perfection, their timing and delivery superb adding wonderfully to the chaos. Interestingly the weakest character is that of Betty, but this is looking at it with the eyes of 2018 – I’m not sure there is a woman out there who would put up with Frank these days!
This is a gentle comedy of mishaps, misunderstandings and mayhem, a perfect role for Joe Pasquale , take yourself off to Hull New Theatre for a night of fun and laughter – you won’t be disappointed.