Joe Pasquale as the hapless Frank Spencer drove me absolutely mad on Tuesday night, when Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em came to the Hull New Theatre stage.
So perfect was his portrayal of the accident-prone husband, made famous by Michael Crawford in the 1970’s TV series of the same name, Crawford himself couldn’t have done a better job.
Pasquale’s mannerisms were spot on – the leg bent at the knee; the nervous hand stroking of his thigh – the fact that it took me a long while to understand a word he spoke made not the slightest difference. In this case, actions spoke louder than words.
Not that Pasquale’s diction wasn’t loud and clear, it was. But the speed in which he delivered his lines flummoxed my old ears.
His wearing of the famous beret and patterned knitted tank top completed the image.
And the reason he drove me mad? He was so irritating, I wanted to scream at him to “Listen!”, especially when his long-suffering wife Betty (Sarah Earnshaw) is trying to tell him she is pregnant.
Of course, it’s all part of Spencer’s character to irritate and flabbergast all around him, and Pasquale excelled in both.
The story centres around a recently out-of-work Frank – who considers himself a master of all trades – receiving a belated letter from the BBC inviting him to be part of a show called Stars Of Tomorrow.
Considering himself a budding magician and a DIY expert, Frank excitedly plans his performance for when the camera crew arrives – that night. Meanwhile, Betty has been to the doctor who confirms her pregnancy. Cue her heroic, lengthy and unsuccessful attempts to break the news to the dad-to-be.
Worried about Frank’s reaction to the news he is to become a father, Betty has confided in Father O’Hara (David Shaw-Parker), as well as her mother Barbara (Susie Blake), who relays the news to her man friend, bank manager David Worthington (Moray Treadwell).
So the only person who doesn’t know this momentous news in a fairly full theatre, is Frank himself, because he just will not let Betty get a word in edgeways. Grrrrr!
But Frank being so innocent, lovable and vulnerable, we forgive him.
Glorious confusion reigns throughout this production – how on earth just six cast members (Chris Kiely takes on a dual role of a police constable and Desmond the BBC cameraman) can create such non-stop mayhem shows just how talented this group are.
Of course, a cleverly designed stage setting helps – it falls apart at all the right slapsticky times; water and wine gush, lights flash, pictures fall off walls and legs off furniture.
It’s pulled off with split-second timing against a script featuring crossed wires, misunderstandings and downright silliness – but it all works magnificently.
All is not what it seems, however, and things do become clear in the end, but not after hilarious scenes of Frank colliding with every spindle on the staircase (ouch!), ceilings and walls collapsing and some really amusing “dance” routines by everyone involved.
Fun and games aside, this is a very cleverly designed production requiring lightning-fast reactions from a superb cast who kept us entertained throughout.
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 26th June 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★