Review - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Sarah Earnshaw and Joe Pasquale in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
Sarah Earnshaw and Joe Pasquale in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

If you were in any doubt that you were stepping back into the 1970s, the upbeat pop of the era was presented as you walked into the auditorium

For those who don't know, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em tells the story of the clumsy yet endearing Frank Spencer who along with his wife Betty attempting to get by. For Frank has an audition for a major television show, but Betty has some big news of her own.

This was so dripped in everything for the 1970s so much so that you expected a tray of vol-au-vents to be passed round among the audience. But then to be fair, I doubt the premise of the show would work outside this time period.

There are plenty of laughs from the slapstick material presented and lots of set up for the accident prone Frank. Joe Pasquale steps into Michael Crawford's shoes and does a pretty good job, funny in the right places, chaotic and clumsy without loosing the sympathy of the audience.

The acting is generally pretty good even if the characterisation is a little one dimensional at times but then in a show which resolves around one central character, this does tend to happen.

Probably the favourite moment though of the show is one which I imagine wasn't in the script courtesy of former Victoria Wood cohort Susie Blake. She is briefly seen Acorn Antiques style when the door opens accidentally and tries to recover it, but it is too late. You could see Joe Pasquale desperately trying to keep a straight face.

I did wonder how they were going to manage the kind of physical comedy that the show managed and there is plenty of excellent slapstick in there. One imagine that resetting the show must be a challenge given what happens at the end.

In many ways, this show reflects the diversity you can get in the theatre and why it is alive and vibrant. This is almost certainly for the audience which has a nostalgic view of the show, an audience that may not necessarily come out for a Shakespeare or Chekhov, but it perfectly atuned to that audience as the standing ovation at the end of the show attested to.

Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em is at Northampton until Saturday May 5. For tickets call the box office on 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.