Steptoe and Son
Doncaster Little Theatre
14-16 July 2022
I’m quite the fan of stage versions of classic sitcoms. There’s something comforting for me in the easy nostalgia and you know the scripts are good – well they used to be, didn’t they? An easy enjoyment of a great script in search of equally great performances and an audience baffled by references to long gone entertainment. These scripts by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson are beautifully eloquent, flitting from Bertrand Russell to Alf Garnett, creating poignant dissections of class and the sense of being trapped in a sordid nightmare.
This production consists of three much loved television scripts for Steptoe and Son: The Bird; Man of Letters and A Star is Born, and it carries all the weight of the television sitcom with the added factor that it is being performed live – as many of the early television shows were to studio audiences. I swear this was going out on some obscure channel.
As an experiment in revival it works really well. Simon Carr directs with assurance to ensure the lines are given the attention they need and deserve and both Graham Newton as Albert and Graham Carpenter as Harold quickly grow into the roles, trusting the lines and shamelessly channeling Wilfred Bramble and Harry H Corbett.
What I particularly loved were the moments when some members of the audience simply hummed along to the theme tune, as if lost in a reverie of comic remembrance.
If you’re curious about whether these scripts still work and simply want to enjoy some finely worded jokes there is much fun to be had. If you are concerned about political correctness then perhaps you should consider the opportunity to watch them performed as part of a bit of research into social history from the 60’s.
These are funny and deserve to be seen. It’s a great idea to revive them and comedy produced this skilfully is a joyful celebration of everything special about British humour. I tried to convince a friend to come along by suggesting they were being performed by The Mighty Boosh. Totally unnecessary, I was happy to let go and laugh without any mediation. It’s funny and beautifully staged with a supporting cast including the director who revel in the stinging pathos.