Royal & Derngate
14 November 2012 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews A lonely father and son scraping a living as rag-and-bone men and rubbing each other up the wrong way made for an extraordinary 12-year run of sitcom episodes in the 1960s and 70s. But thatís about as far as the similarity extends between Ray Galton and Alan Simpsonís original BBC series and this new stage production from physical theatre specialists Kneehigh. Joint artistic director Emma Rice has taken four of the television scripts and adapted them for a tour, fifty years on from the first screenings. But in spite of the castís energy and commitment, and the stuffing of lots of entertaining business into the gaps between lines, thereís a nagging question at the back of oneís mind throughout: why?
Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H Corbett made their characters of Albert and Harold so iconic that itís a wise decision to move away from them entirely. Thus
Mike Shepherdís wiry, agile Albert and Dean Nolanís vast but nimble Harold share little more than the lines with their TV counterparts in what amounts to a series of duologues interspersed with Kneehighís trademark knockabout comedy.
The fact that most of the laughs come from the inserted new business reflects significantly on the scripts, which seem slow, dated and (dare I say it?) a little pedestrian. Rice throws in an additional figure, an unnamed woman, who frames the episodes with some period outfits and LPs as well as the occasional walk-on role, but essentially itís a two-hander, ably and confidently delivered by Shepherd and Nolan.
Thereís some poignant pondering on the nature of loneliness Ė each of the pair suffers in their own way Ė and on the inextricable, trapping ties between father and son, but in the end itís an oddly unsatisfying mash-up that serves neither to reinvigorate the original nor to mint a fresh new version for the 21st Century.
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Score Comment Date Very disappointing show. Seemed never to get going. Lacked something but not sure what. The tv show was extremely fun but the show failed to achieve the humour. - Buster 18 Nov 12
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