When the original scriptwriter of the seventies hit sitcom, Some Mothers do ‘ave ’em, Raymond Allen, was approached by Guy Unsworth and Joe Pasquale about a stage revival of the characters, he gave them the complete scripts and they developed this new play based on one particular episode. But they could not have envisaged that the UK tour would be cut short in March 2020 by the pandemic. After a two-year hiatus it is back on tour opening at the Gordon Craig Theater in Stevenage before traveling around the country until August, and if you are looking for a silly farcical night out it is well worth booking for one of its venues.
Don’t go expecting to see an impression of Michael Crawford’s iconic creation of Frank Spencer, the hapless-prone but loveable accident at the heart of the story. Instead, Joe Pasquale brings his own unique physical presence and comedy to the part. He is a comic with a love of silly gags delivered with his distinctive squeaky voice and his comic timing lends itself to the situation and gets ever more manic as the farce develops. We do get the iconic beret and white trench coat from the original, but the adaptation avoids the “Oh Betty” catchphrase and Crawford’s mannerisms. For those who remember the twenty-three episodes of the Sitcom(1973-1978) it takes a moment to adjust to Pasquale’s version but after a short while you just sit back and enjoy the madness of the rising chaotic business.
The set design by Simon Higlett reflects the lurid colors and patterns of seventies design with many practical features and collapsing furniture and a brilliant gag of a record player that turns itself off with a stamp of the foot. Each provides the opportunity for a comic interaction with Pasquale.
They come together at the end for a strong reminder that this remains set in the seventies with a final bow dance routine to Mud’s 1974 hit “Tiger Feet”, and somehow it feels appropriate!
It is completely bonkers but perfectly suits Joe Pasquale’s comical stage presence with an air of total bewilderment and completely unaware of the chaos he causes. Guy Unsworth has done an excellent job adapting and directing this for the stage remaining true to the original but giving it a fresh life that should appeal to the nostalgic older audiences (the opening theme tune will be enough to get them recalling the good old days of three-channel TV!) and younger ones who simply want gentle gag packed silliness. Comedy Gold.
Review by Nick Wayne
Seat: Stalls, Row K | Price of Ticket: £32