‘The laughter years’ would be a better sub-title to Lipservice’s latest comic offering. Following on from previous successes including Jane Bond and Withering Looks, writers and performers Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding take the audience through the highs and lows in the lives of ‘Celebrity Couple’ Anthony Chalmers and Isobel ‘Twizzle’ Trilling.
From Twizzle’s first major film role, through TV series, marriage, more TV series, divorce, re-marriage, to their current dizzy heights of fame via ‘Celebrity Wheelie Bins’ you witness an affectionate parody of, not only celebrity, but TV shows from the seventies to the present day.
Well observed characterisation, from Twizzle’s irritating laugh to Tony’s plastic hip, mean that although the characters portrayed are flamboyant, there are enough familiar mannerisms to remind you of real celebs, such as Richard & Judy, Vanessa Feltz, and other daytime ’stars’.
The script is witty and tight, but both Fox and Ryding are comfortable enough in their characters to improvise during a Q & A session with the audience. Director Mark Chadderton weaves both of these aspects of the show together with real precision.
Michael Holt’s simple, sparse set design means that changes of location and character are conveyed by slide projection, costume accessories and a couple of folding screens. Hats, wigs and coats are changed frenetically, along with characters’ voices, delivering diverse folk ranging from Mr Hepplethwite the Yorkshire farmer, to the alcoholic wife of RJ the American oil baron. From The Archers to Emmerdale (when it was a farm!), via Dallas; Tony and Twizzle sends up familiar soaps, dramas and chat shows with real panache.
Phil Clarke’s clever lighting creates changes in scene and character without being obtrusive. Likewise, composer Akintayo Akinbode creates evocative music, which at times steers so close to the songs and themes it’s parodying you would think he might have to pay copyright fees; whilst Malcolm Raeburn’s lyrics poke fun at the songs of the seventies which we recall fondly but really wish we didn’t!
Tony and Twizzle -The Glory Years continues Lipservice’s gold run of ferociously funny productions. It’s well worth a visit and for those of you older than 21, it will also provide you with a titter-filled foray down memory lane, especially if you are a telly addict.