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Doctor in the House (Tour - Newcastle)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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The Diamond Jubilee has given us the opportunity to be nostalgic and fondly look back over the past sixty years. So giving an audience the opportunity to revisit Simon Sparrow and Sir Lancelot Spratt seems a good idea (some of us can even recall can Dirk Bogarde and James Robertson Justice in the film series, which still pops up on satellite TV and subsequent TV versions). But time and tastes have changed a lot and sadly even given this highly talented cast, Doctor in the House is now hardly funny. To be fair some members of the small audience did find some things to laugh at, but they seemed to be in the minority.

At the start of the play, Burt, a (pretend) stage manager appears in front of the house curtain and tells us the leading lady has fallen ill and asks if "there is a doctor in the house" This allows Joe Pasquale the opportunity to rush from the audience as Tony Grimsdyke and spend the next few minutes winning the audience over, both in and out of character, with his trade mark comments (such as picking on an audience member and referring to her as a "foxy mamma").

Then the curtain rises and we are transported to Tony's flat, which he shares with a fellow medical student John (Tom Butcher). Simon Sparrow (Phillip Langhorne) soon arrives and reveals he is the nephew of the much feared Sir Lancelot (Robert Powell). Sadly Emma Barton (stunning in Chicago and best know for Eastenders) is totally wasted as Vera, Tony's fiancée.

A total preposterous rehearsal of a forthcoming Christmas play leads us in to the interval and signals the return of Sir Lancelot to catch the Doctors in a supposed embarrassing situation. Once the mess is sorted, it is left to Pasquale to explain to the audience once again the plot has moved forward, as well taking the opportunity to include more of his trademark jokes. Then we are left to watch the characters try and have the sudden engagement of Simon to a nurse (who just happens to be related to the matron) called off.

Sadly, it is not just the doctors who need patients in this play, the audience needs plenty of patience as well. Give this cast a Ray Cooney farce and they would have the place rocking, but sadly, despite their best endeavors, this play seems to have little life left in it.


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