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Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at Richmond Theatre

I only have a vague recollection of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – I do at least recall watching some episodes, with the hapless Frank Spencer being well-intentioned but forever infuriating other people and generally being accident-prone. More than anything I recall the canned laughter. Here, the set (Simon Higlett) not only looks like a house from a generation ago but is remarkably innovative, becoming very much part of the narrative. Frank (Joe Pasquale) contradicts the notion that things were less cluttered and chaotic back in the day. His stoical wife Betty (Sarah Earnshaw) has warmth and charm about her, and while the audience finds itself rooting for Frank, there’s no reason to dislike the lady.

Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - (Credit Scott Rylander).
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – (Credit Scott Rylander).

The writers, Guy Unsworth and Raymond Allen, keep proceedings going at a brisk pace. It’s quite refreshing to come across such gentle humour that elicits laugh-out-loud responses time and time again. Far removed from the ‘eff, cee and effing cee’ style of comedy that seems to be dominant these days, the use of extensive vocabulary includes phrases that are not so much hilarious in their content but in their delivery. The plot becomes increasingly absurd and, like Frank Spencer’s house, eventually disintegrates, even if all is ultimately explained before the curtain call. Either way, it’s neither here nor there in a show that packs in the laughs like the Central line packs in commuters in the morning rush hour.

The comedy is, apart from some brief poignant moments (which never quite pull at the heartstrings in the way an Alan Ayckbourn comedy play does), relentless. This is not a show for the fainthearted – there is next to no recovery time from one punchline to the next. It may be a show of its time, but the play’s energy is gloriously sustained right to the very end, and while some spoilsports out there might well find something or other disagreeable in the script, there was nothing discernibly inappropriate that made the audience take a sharp intake of breath.

There were some gasps, mind you, but these were related to events on stage. I am hesitant to provide examples for fear of giving too much away: again, whilst the events themselves are not all that remarkable, it’s what the show and its characters make of them that adds much to the audience’s hearty laughter. I don’t think I’ve ever come across so much chortling over a pair of trousers before. Or wallpaper. Or someone being with child.

The supporting characters are equally brilliant. James Paterson’s Father O’Hara is a man of the cloth who finds himself confused rather than angry at Frank’s decisions and actions. Moray Treadwell and Ben Watson have two roles each, for reasons explained in the narrative, while Susie Blake’s Mrs Fisher began as a matriarchal figure with her daughter’s best interests at heart, but ended up speaking her true mind under the influence of alcohol, much to the audience’s delight.

The double entendres are more than sufficiently amusing, and the cast navigate through tongue twisters impressively. Pasquale and Earnshaw’s Frank and Betty are far from carbon copies of the versions made famous by Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice, while still retaining the essence of the television series. That they have stamped their own authority on such well-known characters with such confidence is good to see. This enthusiastic production is exactly the sort of show audiences need right now in these troubled and perplexing times.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

Hilarious mishaps and DIY disasters are bringing the house down, quite literally, as Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em hits the road with Joe Pasquale (New Faces, I’m a Celebrity, Spamalot, The Producers) as the lovable accident-prone Frank Spencer.

Susie Blake (Coronation Street, The Victoria Wood Show, Blithe Spirit) stars as his disapproving Mother-in-Law and Sarah Earnshaw as his long-suffering wife Betty.

Based on the 1970s classic TV comedy by Ray Allen and directed by the award-winning Guy Unsworth, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is the ultimate feel-good night out, washed down with lashings of nostalgia and Mother’s prune wine.
Quite Frank-ly, it’s a hit!

Written & Directed by Guy Unsworth
Based on the TV series by Raymond Allen
Joe Pasquale, Sarah Earnshaw, and Susie Blake

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at Richmond Theatre
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is at Richmond Theatre from Tuesday 31st May, 2022 to Saturday 4th June, 2022.

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