Skip to content

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

by on 1 June 2022

‘Ealth and Safety

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

by Guy Unsworth, based on the TV series by Raymond Allen

Limelight Productions at Richmond Theatre until 4th June, then tour continues until 13th August

Review by Gill Martin

It could have been called Some Grannies Do ‘Ave ‘Em !

This revival of the hugely successful TV show Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em mines ancient comedy history.  It was all of forty years ago that audiences peaked at 25 million who tuned in to the misfortunes of Frank Spencer, played by Michael Crawford.

Now it is the turn of Joe Pasquale to introduce the hapless Frank to a new theatre audience – the grandchildren and children of the original fans.  And make them laugh with rather than at dear Frank, he of the distinctive black beret, Fairisle sweater and beige raincoat

It’s perfect casting for a role that demands a physical comedy actor who can deliver rapid fire monologues, fall down stairs, command empathy and unashamedly take centre stage as the rest of the cast gift him most of the limelight.

Undeniably old fashioned farce, with double entendres, delightful malapropisms and slap-stick antics it proves a delight for all generations.  Not a swear word is uttered, no cruelty or unkindness – it’s just good clean British fun.  You could take your granny or your twelve year old. 

The first night audience at Richmond Theatre lapped it up, belly laughing, shoulder-shaking, chortling, emitting sympathetic “aaahhhs” when the hopeless hero’s DIY disasters threaten to bring the house down – literally.  Even surly teenagers cracked a few smiles.

Pasquale, veteran of three decades of live stand-up tours and crowned ‘King of the Jungle’ in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here,  nails the nervy mannerisms of Crawford’s Spencer as he strives and inevitably fails in all his efforts to impress his long-suffering, loving wife Betty, sympathetically played by Sarah Earnshaw.

If anything dates this show it’s the very idea that any woman today would put up with an unemployable, dysfunctional husband so dreadfully inept.  OK, he has heart of gold and is bursting with good intentions but he is an accident waiting, but not waiting long, to happen.

Mother-in-law (Susie Blake) despairs of her daughter’s choice.  The widow turns to drink (homemade rhubarb wine) and gives an hilarious performance as a sloshed man-hunter who has honey-toned bank manager Mr Worthington (Moray Treadwell) in her sights.

The action is set in the rented home of the Spencers, and set designer Simon Higlett has a field day with the ghastly red, amber and brown geometric wall paper and mismatched and very breakable furniture.  Walls are adorned with pictures of a young Engelbert Humperdinck, too-old Bruce Forsyth and a garish Messiah.

Higlett and stunt co-ordinator Kev McCurdy have somehow conspired to half-demolish the set without any of the cast being carted off to A&E.  And no-one actually gets electrocuted thanks to the ingenuity of lighting designer Matt Haskins.

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em feels like a homage to the era of the British sitcom, a more innocent age of entertainment from the late Sixties to late Seventies when families gathered round the goggle-box to watch Dad’s Army, The Liver Birds, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Are You Being Served?, Porridge, The Good Life, Fawlty Towers, The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin.

Was this the glue that kept the family together?  Unsworth thinks so.  And Susie Blake is delighted to be in a show her grandchildren can safely see.

Writer-director Guy Unsworth, self-confessed fan of the genre since childhood, collaborated with Raymond Allen, the original creator of Frank Spencer and writer of the 23 TV episodes.

Unsworth worked with Pasquale on Monty Python’s Spamalot and says of the star: ‘To play Frank Spencer you need …someone whom the audience will take to its heart.

‘Joe has the ability to get the audience on his side. He has a quality which people respond to and which they care about.

‘I like to believe that there is a clear logic to Frank’s brain.

‘Although Betty’s very quick to realise that whatever Frank is doing is bound to go wrong, she never seems to come up with a better solution.  Regardless, she loves him and loves her.  They are a match made in heaven.’

And maybe their marriage will produce Spencer Junior to entertain another generation …

Gill Martin, May 2022

Photography by S Rylander

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: