Victoria Wood’s popular sitcom, Dinnerladies is brought to life on stage in the final leg of its UK tour. The gentle natured comedy, set in the canteen of a component factory, centres (as it did on the small screen) around the will-they-won’t-they love life of catering manager Tony (Andrew Dunn) and assistant Bren (Laura Sheppard) in the months leading up to Christmas. With a sprinkling of predictability to it, there are plenty of laughs as the story slowly unfolds.
The emphasis unfortunately is on the slow nature of the plot; it feels a long slog to the interval with classic jokes from the series stitched together with new bits and pieces. Get through that and the second act picks up the pace (and the laughs) to the end.
Dunn and Sue Devaney (Jane) from the original tv cast are joined by new faces to make up the familiar cast. Sheppard’s portrayal of Victoria Wood’s Bren is flawless and Tamsin Heatley has Julie Walters’ Petula spot on. Devaney’s enthusiasm livens up many a scene and Roya Amiri has many a one liner to keep the audience on its toes.
Watch out for Peter Brad-Leigh’s short but hilarious scenes as the dry-witted Bob.
It’s a shame in some respects that the performances are kept so rigid to the tv portrayals and no new stamp can be put on the characters by the fresh cast of actors.
An overall gently entertaining, if a little long, evening of British comedy awaits those ready to see some Dinnerladies in action.