Remember when Michael Crawford ruled the world as hilarious loser Frank Spencer? No? Maybe it’s just the baby boomers then. But as nostalgia is big money with that demographic, what better idea than to resurrect the 1970s hit comedy Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em as a touring production?
Joe Pasquale, a comedy icon himself, is ideally suitable to fill the massive shoes vacated by Crawford. He does a first-class job of echoing Crawford’s performance of effete mannerisms and squeaky vocals, without losing his own personality in the role. This is not an impression. Pasquale is very funny.
The plot, which is quite minimal, revolves around a disaster-laden evening at the Spencer household. His wife Betty has some huge news to tell Frank. The BBC are coming to film his new magic act. Betty’s mother is bringing her new boyfriend round. And oh, there’s been a burglary at the council house.
The play is an evening of pratfalls and slapstick, with some (gentle) innuendo thrown in. Lamps will explode. Cabinets will topple. Walls will crumble.
As we all know, Frank Spencer is the clumsiest, most accident prone, naïve, inept, person who ever lived. Unable to hold down a job more than ten minutes without burning the office to the ground. He leaves a trail of unintended destruction in his wake. Grown men scream and hide as he approaches.
And that, basically, is the gag. The play is an evening of pratfalls and slapstick, with some (gentle) innuendo thrown in. Lamps will explode. Cabinets will topple. Walls will crumble.
The other thing that set the TV show apart was the love story. The relationship between Frank and his wife Betty (the sorely underrated Michelle Dotrice) was truly touching. Betty always stood by her hapless husband, even as he ruined her life. Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw as Betty get as close to this as they can in the allotted time.
If you’re going to compare it to the TV show, then stay home. They cannot do on the stage what was done on film. Think of this show as a tribute act. It certainly went down well with the audience. They gave the cast a standing ovation.
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em plays at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until Saturday 14 March