Touring – reviewed at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em was a television favourite of mine and I admired the work of both Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice. so 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. Pasquale looks the part with the trench coat and beret and 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 enhanceds his characterisation and he even attempts 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 is a tight-knit unit with members support one another superbly as the set is literally falling down around them. In particular, there is a stand-out performance from Blake as Barbara, her facial expressions alone had me weeping tears of laughter. Blake’s physical comedy ability is a match for Pasquale’s too which is an inspired combination in the scenes they have 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