This is the sort of play whose film version gets shown on Channel 4 of a weekday afternoon: a 1950s comedy of Northern manners, in which able-bodied bridegroom-to-be triumphs over battleaxe ma-in-law, while a maiden aunt (left at the altar decades ago), stares into the tea-leaves and Pop is always nipping out back to his ferrets... plus the now ludicrously dated assumption that Scottishness is funny in itself.
It's well enough directed and performed – Sheila Steafel (Auntie Edie) has, after all, had years of experience at being Sheila Steafel, and Jane Summer Wine Freeman is cast entirely to type as the significantly-named Mrs Hornett. Its mainstream appeal will make it a cash cow that'll subsidise the Lyric's worthier enterprises; but I can't for the life of me see what respected critics ever admired in the play itself, let alone understand its revival.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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