Standing astride stand up comedy and light entertainment, Maggie Fox and Sue Ryder, under the banner of Lip Service, have been entertaining a loyal following for over twenty five years. A new incarnation of the musical Desperate to be Doris, with a community choir (complete with daffodil headdress during the "Secret Love" number), does not disappoint.
This new production opens as the lovable lead Dean (Darren Southworth) begins his daily routine, aided by two Doris Day lookalikes (Ryder and Fox). He makes his was to the offices of The Pyjama Game where he works with his loveable, bonkers platonic work colleague Joy and a plethora of equally strange and silly characters all played by the Lip Service duo.
Soon, the new boss, Candida, causes trouble brandishing cuts and unpopular new products. As Dean dreams of being a cowboy and thinks a lot out loud, ‘too loud’ says Joy, he finds himself dragged to the Am Dram meetings of Out Of My Range. There, he’s mistaken for a new female cast member, pushed on stage on opening night and asked to play the lead in the company’s production of Calamity Jane.
In the Great British tradition of sit-coms and stereotypes, Doris is a lovely, light visual treat. It’s inoffensive and there was little to challenge the appreciative audience in attendance on the night I watched. There are hilarious visual gags, wonderful characterisations, plot debunking and asides and there’s enough local referencing and topical humour to keep the production fresh.
It’s cleverly plotted but some of the jokes fall flat here and there. This is because there are, perhaps times when the joke gets in the way of the story which often leads to an unnecessary slump in pace.
But it is the inclusion of Southworth as the third spoke that really serves this production and, indeed Lip Service’s style. The gay lead being the ‘straight man’ in this comedy caper is a delicious knowing wink.
A fun, frilly, fluffy night out with lots of laughs - Desperate To Be Doris is recommended.