- February 26, 2019
There’s always a worry when a popular TV sit-com is taken from the screen to stage. Will it ever be as funny live and will we be seeing the original cast? Well from the very first moment this transfer delivers on every level. You become immediately aware that the TV show is made by excellent scripting and casting and not by locations and editing. The first indication of this is a stunning set, beautifully conceived and built it transform from reception to bar to hair salon with such ease that the action is fast paced and slick. The second realisation is that nothing has been spared on this production in terms of cast, this is a full on show with a stage full of performers making the Solana hotel look like the busy three and a half star resort that it is.
And then there are the stars, no expense has been spared here either. The structure of the plot is based around so many of the original cast, no substitutes for favourite characters at all and one has to assume that there was a high level decision to create the evening around those actors who were up for taking this hilarious romp on a large tour – a brilliant idea and one that more producers should look to.
So there we have it, the wonderful Janine Duvitski at her smutty and outrageous best. Tony Maudsley, doing camp old slapper with such aplomb and Jake Canuso’s Mateo as greasy as ever but also showing that the guy can really dance – yes there are songs and dance numbers which of course the original has too in the scenes at the cabaret bar Neptune’s and how great it was to have the original Asa Elliott, the original playing himself. Sherry Hewson is magnificently funny as Joyce Temple-Savage, surely the best character name since Mrs Mallaprop, the out of her depth manager, that wonderful blend of snobbery and coarse that she does so well and Shelly Longworth gets to not only play that tart with a heart Sam but also gets to show that she has a beautiful singing voice. Aiden Gillen is a pure delight, that totally endearingly camp creature, all twitches and pulled faces, forever protesting his love for his father, the sadly absent Lesley, and his outrage at the assumption that he is gay! Gillen plays the role with such skill, even singing and dancing in character – one of the most engagingly funny comedy performances I have ever seen.
This is the real deal, the silly campery, saucy seaside postcard humour, the legacy of Carry On taken forward into the 21st century – what’s not to love, especially when it’s done this well, and the audience reaction proves it.
Theatre Royal Brighton