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Birds of a Feather (Southampton - tour)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The spontaneous and extended laughter elicited throughout this timeless piece of theatre, clearly shows the love and respect that a British audience feels for the iconic sit-com Birds of a Feather. The choice of Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph was an inspiration all those years ago, and made the show an institution.

Can it really be nearly fifteen years since these three lit up our TV screens with their raucous brand of perfectly timed, outrageous comedy? Their characters and styles of humour fit as an incredible triangle of laughter; without any one of them it could not possibly work. None of this has changed a jot, excepting for the odd self-deprecating ageist jokes, and the inevitable physical signs of passing years. They manage to bring this right up to date with topical references as diverse as Cameron’s politics and ‘Cilit Bang’ cleaning products!! The acid tongued one liners come thick and fast and the occasional ad lib and corpse from the actors delights the stalwart fans.

The authors of the play are the brilliant original quartet, creators (Maurice Gran) and (Laurence Marks) together with writers (Gary Lawson) and (John Phelps). TV sitcoms transferring to stage are often a disaster, but this one is a triumph. Why change a format that works so well?

The sisters, Sharon and Tracey, are back living together, as their men are respectively in jail, and out of jail but being ignored. Dorien, who is inexplicably the Proprietor of a retirement home, calls on them out of the blue, and they, both out of work, take up employment with her, leading inevitably to farcical goings-on, following the death of a wealthy elderly resident. Although the plot becomes a little far-fetched, theatrical licence carries it through, and it is such fun that no-one on or off stage really notices or cares.

Tracey's spoilt adolescent son Travis, is played in alternate performances by (Sean Michael Verey) or (Charlie Quirke); Charlie, of course being the son of Pauline. Other cameo roles supporting the stars are well played by (Stephen Pallister) and (Penelope Woodman), all adding to the increasing fiasco.

Whether or not you remember or watched any or all of the original episodes, you will be delightfully entertained by this feast of fun, frolic and double-entendre.


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