Reviewed by Anon
Last night I was invited to attend the opening evening of Some Mother’s Do Ave Em at the gorgeous Regent Theatre in Stoke. This classic 1970’s comedy has been adapted for the stage and we couldn’t wait to see how it would all work. Especially with Joe Pasquale in the lead role as Frank Spencer.
I love this theatre, the atmosphere is always friendly, cozy and the toilets clean. Parking is a bit hit and miss unless you know the area but if you have a look in advance you’ll find somewhere within a few minutes walk. The staff are always super helpful too. At the moment there is a beautiful art installation just outside the theatre which I believe makes a huge difference to the atmosphere exiting the theatre too! 150 umbrellas have been hung to celebrate neurodiversity.
Where do I begin with the show! First of all I noted that the age range of the audience was so varied. From older people who might have enjoyed it on TV the first time round to teens in attendance. I took my dad. It was he who would put the show on television when I was younger so I feel I know the story lines and the characters and was excited to see it because it was nostalgic and familiar, as well as funny. The original Frank was often too frustrating for me and so I was really pleased to see that for this show he was a little less erratic and toned down. For me this made the problems he got himself into more relatable and realistic. This made the story a lot more easy to follow as it was less a series of things just happening, but more you could see exactly why and where things were happening. Just that little step back and a couple of cleverly written lines raised the stage show higher in my opinion.
Joe Pasquale was the perfect Frank. From the original comedy we expect a weedy, wet, skinny man but Joe fits so well with his own mannerisms and how he uses his voice. He has such fantastic vocal abilities. Joe’s interpretation of this character moved so flawlessly (as long as you let the idea of how he should look from the originals go). He brings his own personality to the character. I recognized a few familiar faces in the audience and after chatting with them, they agreed that the show was very well cast.
As the curtain is raised you are plunged straight into the story. Betty, played by Sarah Earnshaw sits chatting with Father O’Hara played by James Patterson. From the first scene you get a feel for who Betty is as a character. Sarah makes her relatable and was perfectly cast in my opinion. She made the character more human and less lost child like. One lady I spoke to did mention the apparent age gap between Betty and Frank, especially as they’re having their first child but for me it works well so it is easily forgotten a few minutes in. To cast someone more like the original Frank, in my opinion, might have ruined the show completely. Joe (Frank Spencer) and Sarah were just what the show needed. Whilst Father O’Hara is like the background glue keeping the storyline going. Adding in bits of information you need to remember for later. Although I admit, until the end I hadn’t even noticed the answers to how the show might conclude had been there all along. Very clever.
There were only six cast members. Sometimes having a smaller cast really works and it certainly works well for this show. They all deserve a mention. Mrs Fisher, Betty’s mother, was played by the fantastic Susie Blake. So clever and quick with her lines and so natural in the delivery.
I particularly loved the characters played by Moray Treadwell. He played both Mr Luscombe and Mr Worthington from the bank. How he stayed in character and kept a straight face I will never know. I found it hilarious that, even though it was obvious to the audience that it was the same man, the rest of the cast didn’t know until the big reveal in act two. Loved how they did this. Ben Watson played camera man Desmond and the constable. He portrayed these characters really well and again I liked how he played both and those on stage were meant to be completely oblivious. His dance routine on the stairs with Joe, Frank and Mr Luscombe was so perfectly timed and definitely the highlight of the show for me.
Each of those on stage brought something special to the show. They never stopped and kept the energy going throughout and not a line out of place. It must be so hard to deliver some of the lines with a dead pan face with Frank and the set gradually falling down in the background.
I loved the interactive set, so cleverly done. It really adds to the story and doesn’t require an extra explanation. From Betty and Frank whacking the walls and stamping on the floors which seemed an every day, routine thing for them, to watching the visitors trying to keep up with the same was so funny.
I felt the first half lost it’s way and dragged a little, the comedy a little dated and what you would expect if the script were copied directly from the original but with different actors. I felt it was a little disjointed and wasn’t sure what the writers were trying to convey, at a guess I think they were trying to get the audience to really see the cast as the characters. If thrown straight in to a more high powered scene then the cast would have been less believable in their roles. If you go in with a love of the original and expect it to be the same, you find you can’t really compare the two. I think they tried to play it a little too close to the original to get the audience on board and that might be why it almost didn’t work. Certain aspects of comedy haven’t aged well and there were a couple of cringy scenes I wasn’t sure how they got away with, but it was the type of comedy which was a hit in the 70’s/80’s so let it go. The first few rows I noticed were laughing loudly, so it might just be a generational thing on my part. They were certainly enjoying themselves which made me smile. Stick with it because this act really sets the second act up, without the back and forth between the characters in the first act, the second act couldn’t plunge straight in.
Then the second half! It was brilliant. Hilarious from the moment the curtain went up and unlike the first half, Frank steps out in his beret and the pace is set. You don’t get a moment to take a breath, there is so much going on. They kept up the momentum and hats off to Susie Blake with her stunts! When she fell down the stairs it didn’t look like acting it was done so well. I loved her portrayal of Betty’s mother and her getting plastered on home made wine and behaving in the way she did was very believable. I loved it when Joe slid down the stairs, it was really cleverly done. Expect a lot of bangs, my dad actually jumped out of his seat on one occasion! So if on the front rows this will be especially loud and a little smokey. There are some jokes which really shouldn’t work but they did so well in this setting. It was all very clever in the end how they wrapped up the story and there was a happy ending after the disaster.
It is an emotional rollercoaster, with some very sad things being said but then made funny, which again shouldn’t work but it does. You can’t help feeling exhausted and frustrated for Betty, exasperated for Father O’Hara and as for Frank, as irritating and random as his character is you just feel for him, he only wants what’s best for Betty and you can see how much he loves her. Which really brings it all together. For me the casting and script in the end made it feel a bit more grown up and solid for me when actually compared to the well loved original.
Rating: Overall I’d give the show 4 out of 5 stars. It only lost a little because of the disjointed scripting in act one however the second act more than made up for this.
The show runs from Tuesday 26th July until Saturday 30th July. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/some-mothers-do-ave-em/regent-theatre/ and range from £13 to £35.50.