Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
Listeners to Radio 4 will no doubt be familiar with the long running “antidote to panel games” I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. Last night we went to see the stage version at The Lowry in Salford, Manchester which follows the same format as the radio show, where panellists are given silly things to do, often involving music, with plenty of innuendoes thrown in for good measure.
The large Lyric theatre was full of fans, indicating the popularity of the show. As we expected, the average age of the audience was quite high, but with two of the four panellists being over 75 this is perhaps not surprising!
When we entered the theatre, we noticed that a kazoo was waiting for every member of the audience on their seat. We couldn’t wait to find out how we were to participate in the show and were quite disappointed when we learned that we were only able to use them in the second half!
At the start of the show long-time producer, Jon Naismith, took to the stage and warmed up the audience with a few of Barry Cryer’s old jokes. He also made sure we all knew how to blow on a kazoo and gave us the opportunity to try them out which everyone enjoyed. Following the introduction, pianist Colin Sell came on stage and took his place at the piano. Regular panel members Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jeremy Hardy and Tony Hawks made up the teams with Jack Dee as chairman. Unfortunately, as fans will understand, Samantha was unable to join us to keep score but we were given hilarious updates, dripping with innuendoes of why she wasn’t there.
Jack Dee opened the show with the customary monologue, which included jokes about the history of Salford and the surrounding area as well as topical items like the current gender pay gap for employees at the BBC! The show then began with the teams taking turns to come up with humorous mottos for made up organisations followed by one of my favourite rounds, “One song to the tune of another”. The rules are pretty self-explanatory but we especially enjoyed Barry Cryer’s version of “My old man’s a dustman” to the tune of “Heartbreak Hotel” and neither of us will ever forget Jeremy Hardy’s truly awful rendition of “Thank you for the music” to the tune of “Annie’s Song.” His singing was so bad you couldn’t help but laugh!
The silliness carried on for the rest of the first half with the audience enjoying every round. Watching the show live was definitely better than hearing the radio show as you got to see the expressions on the team’s faces which added to the enjoyment.
After a 20-minute break the show continued in much the same way as the first half including the teams inventing some new entries for the Uxbridge English Dictionary and a round of the famous game “Mornington Crescent”. For the live show, a new round has been added, requiring audience participation and it was a big help if you could manage to get a note out of the kazoo! We were presented with a song title (on the laser display board) which we had to perform on our kazoos and the panel simply had to guess what we were playing. It was particularly funny when three members of the audience were picked out to play the theme to Dr. Who.
With such a well-established format and team members who have been with the show since the early 70’s fans of the show know just what to expect and we weren’t disappointed. The laughter and smiling faces of the audience indicated that everyone was having a great night and enjoying the mix of improvisation, innuendo and just plain, good old-fashioned humour.
We really enjoyed our night out, laughing all through the show, if it is showing at a theatre near you I would certainly recommend that you go and see it.
For other shows at The Lowry in Manchester visit www.thelowry.com.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000