Birds of a Feather
Paul Johnson | 19 Jun 2013 18:12pm
Birds of a Feather was one of the lasting series of the nineties. Pulling in around 17 million viewers, it lasted nine series and is actually due back on our screens next year. For those that never watched it, it was a sort of TOWIE for the middle-aged. When such successful shows become stage shows, it can be the start of their demise. Luckily, this production did not ruffle any feathers. The hardest thing about stage versions is the storyline. Do you do a potted version of popular episodes or create an entirely new one? Thankfully, with the original writers Marks and Gran, Lawson and Phelps have developed a whole new, and successful storyline. We still have our three central ladies – Tracey (Linda Robson), Sharon her sister (Pauline Quirke) and Dorien the old (in more than one way) neighbour (Lesley Joseph) with the addition of Tracey’s son Travis (incidently played by Pauline’s real-life son Charlie). Time has moved on the fifteen odd years since we last caught up with the girls. Still separated and still single, out of the blue they hear from Dorien. I won’t go into details (as it is not necessary and I don’t want to give away too much), but suffice to say the storyline is entertaining, even if a bit predictable knowing the characters as well as one does. When Sardines interviewed Pauline Quirke (issue 11, Autumn 2011) she talked about how those years on the show were more like fun than hard work as they were all such good friends. This shows as the trio romped through the performance and as this is the second time they have toured, I think that a few of the lines have probably been tinkered with since the last show to make it more up-to-date, thus making it a ‘new’ show. This meant the production did not come across stale and although a lot of the jokes were similar in vein to the 90s crop, they still worked. Robson did get the giggles rather a lot of times that Quirke covered well, but it did not detract from their performances. Apart from everyone dancing in the aisles for The Rocky Horror Show a few weeks back, I doubt the Churchill has been neither that full nor that loud for a long while. Many productions at the Churchill fall foul of the immense stage. When there are only one or two scene changes and static sets, the space can dwarf the performers and dilute the atmosphere. This piece had two settings, cleverly using the same set with arches and doors that were added to or left empty as required (obvious when you see the show!). Tracey and Sharon now live in Shalentrace (another updated feature) of which the sitting room is the main setting and we also visit an old people’s home. In the television show, there were often scenes outside of the houses that are obviously near impossible to re-create onstage. What the production team did do however was have a video instead that carried the onstage action forward and gave the crew opportunity to change the set without the audience getting bored. This again showed the creativity behind the show. The costumes deserve a mention just for the sheer outrageousness of Dorien’s clobber. Still skintight, short and slutty, her bust entered the room 5 seconds before the rest of her. It would not have been the same if she had played it any other way. Shows such as these have their place. If you were after thought-provoking theatre, probably better you stay away. But if a couple of hours of giggles and (risqué) jokes are your thing, you cannot do much better than these ladies that laugh. Welcome back girls!
- : admin
- : 18/06/2013