A spin-off of the popular TV show, which started in 1989, the programme followed the laughs, love and losses of sisters Sharon Theodopolopodous and Tracey Stubbs who were united through the shared anguish of their partners being in prison. Their love/hate friendship with their promiscuous, gold-digging neighbour Dorien Green provided tongue-in-cheek laughs a plenty.
The stage version of the show is true to form and does not disappoint. The 2012 birds are much the same; Sharon is workshy, has been sacked from a job at LIDL and has dramatically lost weight due to a gluten intolerance, Tracey is a devoted Mum to Travis, but has lied to him and told him that Dad Darryl has died as she is ashamed of his criminal past, and hypocritical Dorien has divorced husband Marcus for adultery, and is now running a retirement home for the wealthy elderly.
The production uses projected film to cover scene changes and add a filmic quality. These include a Benny Hill-style erratic drive from the girls’ home around the area with Tracey wearing a LIDL bag on her head due to her agoraphobia. The show runs smoothly and as a result, quickly. The TV show’s theme tune appears throughout, such as when Sharon plays it on the harmonica from in her jail cell, but is interspersed with modern music such as Noah and the Whale.
The old show is brought up-to-date with modern references such as The Only Way is Essex (which the girls are not impressed with), stating that Dorien had a vajazzle before they were even invented.
The theatre was packed with girls-nights-out, raucously laughing at the risqué jokes. The men present, who were perhaps not there out of choice, also appeared to be having a whale of a time. The script is so amusing that Pauline Quirke was at some points laughing out-of-character, before taking a deep breath to regain composure. There was a great feeling of the cast and audience having a fantastic time together.
If you are looking for a night of reminiscence - whether or not you were a fan of the show – and good old-fashioned belly-laughter, Birds of a Feather is a must-see.
Birds of a Feather runs at the Lyceum, Sheffield until 30 June. For further information go to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk