Malvern Theatres, Malvern – until 3 June 2017
Waiting For God was a television comedy series that I thoroughly enjoyed watching when it was on our screens, Stephanie Cole and Graham Crowden were a dream team in my humble opinion. I wondered if a stage version would work but I’m delighted to report that it’s a triumph. Nichola McAuliffe and Jeffrey Holland surpass the comedy pairing of Cole and Crowden and the production far exceeded my expectations.
Diana Trent (Nichola McAuliffe) is a battle axe de force, whinging, moaning and throwing controversy into the mixed pot of senior citizens who reside at Bayview Retirement Home. Having lost her ‘neighbour’ she has a new friend to play with in the form of Tom Ballard (Jeffrey Holland) whom she develops a fondness for and together they become a quirky yet workable ‘couple’. Their lives are punctuated with Tom’s boring son Geoffrey (David Benson) who endures an eternal battle with his wife Marion, she drinks and sleeps her way through her existence. Then there’s Diana’s niece, Sarah (Joanna Bending) who relies on her aunt far more than Diana wishes her to, involving her in all aspects of her life including the arrival of a new great niece. Of course there’s also ‘the idiot’ Harvey Baines (Samuel Collings) who ‘attempts’ to run the place whilst simultaneously fending off the attentions of Jane Edwards (Emily Pithon), his loyal and besotted assistant.
The piece has been constructed from a selection of plots from the original television series, I recognised the stories that were used. However you don’t need to have seen the television series to be able to enjoy this production. It’s a laugh out loud comedy with intricate and clever dialogue which is delivered expertly by the cast, McAuliffe and Holland in particular who have some incredible opportunities to demonstrate their remarkable expertise. McAuliffe teases out the key character traits with subtle and effective intonation, her comic timing is a skill that I was aware she possessed in abundance, but this role fits her like a glove. Holland matches her in every aspect and they form the proverbial masterclass, together. Collings and Pithon are also a well cast pairing, they each bring all of the basic elements that I was previously familiar with to their characters and also put their own stamp on the roles.
The set is quite reminiscent of the setting used for TV to the point that it felt as if the series I know and love had been recreated on stage and helped to set the scene, tone and atmosphere instantly. It’s extremely versatile scenery too which lends itself to the various scene changes.
An experience at the theatre that is guaranteed to have you rolling in the aisles, while packing a punch with a deep-rooted poignancy and a strong cast who have made the show their own. With just five weeks of the tour left, don’t miss the chance to see this masterpiece.