Thursday, 4 November 2010

'When We Are Married' at The Garrick Theatre

Roll up, roll up! It's old pros season at the Garrick and what old pros they are! Rosemary Ashe, Lynda Baron, Susie Blake, Michele Dotrice, David Horovitch, Roy Hudd, Sam Kelly, Maureen Lipman and Simon Rouse - if you live in the UK you know at least half of these people, if not by name then by the characters they've played on telly, and what great fun it is to see them all on the same stage!

I actually didn't notice the cast when I booked the tickets a while ago - after seeing 'Time And The Conways' at the National Theatre a year or two back I decided I wanted to see some more plays by JB Priestly so I booked tickets to 'When We Are Married' when it was announced. And I'm very pleased I did.

It's a big daft farce about hypocrisy and class set in Yorkshire with three couples who were married together at the same time 25 years earlier and are now celebrating their anniversary when it turns out that the vicar who married them wasn't qualified to do so. So it's major shock horror in the Edwardian living room with the middle aged worthies who have to face some truths about themselves. I sat through the second half with the biggest smile all over my face as the play moved from problem to resolution.

It was great fun to see some of the actors in the flesh for the first time, with Sam Kelly getting the first great rise out of the audience and almost an ovation for simply breathing out after taking a swig of whisky - a marvellous comic moment. It was also a delight to watch Michele Dotrice in action. I'd always viewed her as the 'straight man' in 'Some Mothers Do Have 'Em' but her comic timing was spot on tonight with every little gesture and sigh timed to a tee, a great comic performance and she's gone way up in my estimation. And Roy Hudd, a grand old man of comedy, was excellent as a drunken photographer in full flow on the stage. Susie Blake almost turned into Maggie Smith every now and then with her shrill put downs and Maureen Lipman was, well, Maureen Lipman and well worth watching. Lynda Baron will always be Nurse Gladys Emanuel to me so seeing her playing a Yorkshire woman of firm views was spot on.

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a dreary November night and it sent me away with a smile on my face - what more can you ask? The women (particularly Michele) outshone the men and had the best lines. Go and see it and put a smile on your face. Cheers!

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