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Stage Dragon Review: ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’ At The Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 7 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 7 Apr, 2022

By Ference Hepp

There is a current trend to present revivals and adaptations of classic TV comedies from the golden era of sitcoms and we get to hear the familiar theme tune at the start of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em playing at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this week.

Joe Pasquale as the hapless Frank Spencer’s mother-in-law in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Photo by Scott Rylander.

The original was created and written by Raymond Allen and first broadcast in 1973. It aired for two series initially, then returned for a third in 1978, starring Michael Crawford as the hapless and accident prone Frank Spencer, and Michele Dotrice as his long-suffering wife, Betty.

This national tour is directed by Guy Unsworth, and stars Joe Pasquale (New Faces, I’m a Celebrity, Spamalot, The Producers) as Frank, Sarah Earnshaw (Yes, Prime Minister; Spamalot; Scrooge) as Betty and Susie Blake (Coronation Street, The Victoria Wood Show, Blithe Spirit) as Frank’s disapproving mother-in-law.

The set design by Simon Higlett is very faithful to the 1970s with its various shades of brown, patterned wallpaper and serving hatch between the kitchen and the living room.

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre starring Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw. Photo by Scott Rylander.

The kitchen area stage left is separated by a couple of flats which are rather clunky when opening and closing. That is a shame as we would have been perfectly capable to imagine that you can’t see through to the kitchen from the living room, and it made the setting slightly more amateurish.

The plot revolves around Betty attempting to tell Frank a bit of very important news following his return from the Civic Hall where he auditioned as a magician to take part in Stars of Tomorrow.

A visit by his mother-in-law, a local bank manager, a TV crew and a misplaced chicken house throws all this into chaos, together with the usual household items breaking, pipes exploding and things catching fire which usually goes hand-in-hand with Frank Spencer.

This combination of verbal and physical humour should be a perfect ingredient for a hilarious play with plenty of belly laughs. But it falls short due to a number of factors.

The slapstick situations repeat themselves numerous times through the two hours of the two acts, and where they were funny the first time, they do lose considerable impact once the exactly same joke is repeated over and over again.

Susie Blake as Frank Spencer’s mother-in-law in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Photo by Scott Rylander.

Pasquale and Earnshaw use their voices to resemble the original characters, but it feels like attempting to replicate these.

And by concentrating on the physical disaster situations all around the set, the actual acting is being marked and not performance ready, and the storytelling also suffers.

There are some funny moments and innuendos scattered throughout. However, the pace is quite slow, mechanical and predictable.

In fact, the funniest moments occur as a result of Pasquale’s comic pauses and nervous stares, as opposed to the action and the dialogue.

It is more of a caricature and an attempt to copy some aspects of the original sitcom rather than a clever stage adaptation, using the original themes.

With such a classic title and recognisable characters, there was a potential for a light-hearted evening of entertainment with plenty of laughs, but this failed on many levels, and it felt like the producers relied on the popularity of the title in order to sell the show to the detriment of its production quality.

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em runs until Saturday, April 9 as part of the national tour and tickets are available online at www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk or at the box office on 01483 440000.

 

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