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Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Musical? review at Utilita Arena Newcastle – ‘lame, lazy and lacking in guile’

Brendan O'Carroll and cast in Mrs Brown's Boys D'Musical?. Photo: Graeham Hunter
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Lame, lazy and lacking in guile, Brendan O’Carroll’s latest live show, on a 12-city arena tour, continues from the plot of D’Movie, in which the Moore Street stall holders saved it from property developers. Now Mrs Brown (played by O’Carroll) plans a fundraising musical when they are stung with a €75,000 legal bill.

Despite its Arena-size set, this has a recorded-live-for-TV feel and is directed and blocked for the side-screen videos. Ironically, this makes a poignant subplot that explores Mrs Brown’s relationship with her neighbour Winnie (Eilish O’Carroll), who has a breast-cancer scare, the most successful. None of O’Carroll’s “fecks” here, just plenty of medical malapropisms.

The size of the set turns every entrance into a trudge that even O’Carroll’s famous asides and scripted “mistakes” cannot cover over. Indeed, the show crawls along with such lethargy it might as well be a Western, given the number of tumbleweed moments it contains. So much so, that the biggest laughs come during the panto-style call-outs at the end.

But it is as a musical – even a “Musical?” as the title has it – that the production has most to answer for. As Cathy Brown, the accomplished Jennifer Gibney’s husky delivery of I Want to Be Seduced comes close to musical theatre quality but is destroyed by stompy choreography and the poorly conceived use of a pair of anonymous fan dancers.

Dermot O’Neill as Grandad Brown gets out of his chair to lead a moderately entertaining boys versus girls mash-up about a woman’s place being in the kitchen, which shows where it might have gone.

This cast can sing – and dance. More invention and attention to detail from the creatives could have made this a dangerous, genre-defying event, instead of the insipid retread of old ground that it is.

Only Fools and Horses the Musical review at Theatre Royal Haymarket, London – ‘affectionate but flimsy’

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Brendan O'Carroll's latest live show is a step backwards for Mrs Brown and her boys