Roy Clarke’s popular television comedy characters are on stage in a newly written play with a brand new cast. It should please the fans of Keeping Up Appearances and anyone they care to take along.
Rachel Bell is the magnificent Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) an overbearing, insistent, but strangely lovable social climber. She makes her very first entrance by marching in from the rear stalls and she is applauded, which says much for the appeal of the character. Bell does not disappoint.
Clarke has added an interesting dynamic with Emmet, the normally diffident, highly-strung neighbour, brought to the forefront as the director of the local am/dram group. Hyacinth would love the lead role, Emmet, played by Steven Pinder, would rather it go to someone else.
An almost unrecognisable Kim Hartman is excellent as Emmet’s equally nervy sister Liz. Christine Moore as Hyacinth’s dowdy sister shuffles agreeably in thought and action. Gareth Hale’s slobbish, string- vested Onslow has only to wander onto the stage to get laughs but an attempt, or even a hint, at a northern accent would help with much of his dialogue.
There are many astonishing likenesses to the television characters in this stage cast. Only Hyacinth’s husband Richard is not seen. He is spoken at as if in the wings or out in the audience.
Why on earth does he stay with her? Why do the rest of them tolerate her? Because, dear reader, they are so very English.