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Birds of a Feather (tour – Southend, Cliffs Pavilion)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Over the past couple of years, we have grown accustomed to seeing stage versions of favourite television sit-coms based on the actual scripts. Birds of a Feather is different. It has a new story by Gary Lawson and John Phelps with input from the series writers Laurence Marks and John Phelps and re-introduces us to Sharon, Tracey and Dorien in the present day.

Some things, of course, never change. In 2012, just as in 1998, Sisters Tracey and Sharon still have husbands “going time” – though Travis, Tracey’s son, is now a stroppy teenager. Dorien is still in search of a wealthy Mr Right; in the interim she’s moved into care-home management. That’s when things start to go badly wrong for all three women.

Lesley Joseph (Dorien), Pauline Quirke (Sharon) and Linda Robson (Tracey) each receive a round of applause on entrance – something of a rarity these days – but they deserve it, keeping perfectly in character and knowing just when to cut across audience laughter to point an even funnier line. Robert Mansell as Robert Zimmermann, son of one of Dorien’s charges, and Caroline Burns Cooke as Detective Sergeant Teddern are really there simply as plot facilitators.

It’s the stars’ evening, of course, and they work hard and deserve the audience’s obvious enjoyment. My own was slightly spoiled by a wayward sound system and some projections( to cover scene, time and costume changes) which were hazy in the extreme. Quirke’s son Charlie Sheen plays Travis, a true chip off the block.


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