Thursday, 16 July 2009

Last Of The Summer Wine Tour Review, Ruth Madoc, Tony Adams

Last Of The Summer Wine
Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne

15th July-8th August
Performance seen
Tuesday, July 16th

Last Of The Summer Wine Ruth Madoc, Tony Adams, Steven Pinder, Harry Dickman, Timothy Knightley, John Pennington, Gillian Astell, Ian Marr, Estelle Collins

(appearance order)

Foggy Dewhurst - JOHN PENNINGTON
Compo Simonite - HARRY DICKMAN
Gifford Bewmont - STEVEN PINDER
Wally Batty/Howard - IAN MARR
Mr Pilbeam - TONY ADAMS

Not being a fan of the TV series this was always going to be an interesting show to see but it was made more interesting by what I would describe as a "booking malfunction".

The idea was that we would see this on opening night so that we could take advantage of the usual Friends Of The Devonshire Park Theatre (FDPT) meet-the-cast option after the show. However, although unintended, we ended up with second night tickets.

So we decided we'd go over on first night to meet the cast and then see the show as planned the following evening.

We arrived to buy a programme just as the interval had started.

Harry Dickman And Timothy Kightley Last of The Summer WineIt wasn't too encouraging to hear comments like "I don't like the TV show anyway", "It's very slow", "It's just not me".

However given that on first night a lot of the audience are made up of the FDPT you have to take such feedback with a pinch of salt. We often go to see shows that would not normally appeal only to come away pleasantly surprised and sometimes the reverse is true.

Anyway, we had time to kill whilst the second half was showing so we went for a slow stroll along Eastbourne seafront. On this beautiful summer evening we couldn't help but notice how many pensioners would rather remain cooped up in their hotels playing bingo in the vain hope of winning a tenner than go to see some live entertainment. Hotel after hotel it was the same story hearing callers utter phrases like "Two fat ladies
". I don't know about 88, they'll be hundreds of little fat old ladies if every evening of a holiday is spent playing bingo. It seems such a waste of time.

John Pennington in Last of The Summer WineA full theatre is a rare occurence these days. Tickets start at just £13.50 for this show and if 10 pensioners go together 1 can go free. I wonder why the hotels or tour operators don't encourage more "outings" for OAPs?

If everybody got their act together in the tourist industry the theatre industry could become as popular as it once was.

Well rant of the day over.... we did finish that walk and returned to the theate in time to hear the patrons' comments on leaving the show.

Verdicts seemed to have changed a little since the interval with many claiming it had got better and better in the second half, a few muttering that they "just didn't like farces".

A fellow FDPT member asked before we met the cast if I would be telling the cast how wonderful the show was even though we hadn't seen it yet? That's just not us although I know many an autograph hunter who asks for an autograph whilst lying that they have seen the show. No we'd tell the cast the truth that we would be seeing it the next night, It's up to them if they actually believe you. Besides I'm also not one to praise a show for the sake of it - if I didn't like all or part of a show I'd tell them (and I have in the past).

Tony Adams in Last of The Summer WineIt was quite a novel experience though meeting these performers before seeing a show. Such a friendly, down to earth, cast too! Tony Adams, of former Crossroads fame, will be 69 this year (according to Wikipedia). The last time we saw Tony was 20+ years ago when we saw him jogging through the City Of Brighton - he has clearly stuck to a fitness regime that has kept him looking extremely fit. He has a physique that blokes 30 years younger would be envious of.

In addition to talking to Tony Adams we briefly spoke to John Pennington and Steven Pinder and had a little chat with Ruth Madoc (probably best known for Hi De Hi). But most of my time was spent chatting to the very amiable Londoner's Harry Dickman (Compo Simonite) and Timothy Kightley (Norman Clegg) who both promised they would look out for us the following evening. It wouldn't be difficult as we were to be in the front row.

Photos taken, autographs done all that was needed now was to see the show.

Ruth Madoc in Last of The Summer WineAccordingly we returned the following evening. Not fans of the TV series we didn't really expect much but I actually found it pleasantly entertaining.

How can I put it? It isn't comedy that will leave you rolling in the aisles but it is enough to keep you chuckling along.

From what I have seen of the TV show this is along the lines of the gentle comedy portrayed in the episodes.

This is actually an "in-house" Eastbourne Theatres production with Chris Jordan being the director. I think Chris did a fine job of casting the 3 main roles (Compo, Glegg and Foggy). None of these roles are filled by the "celebrity headliners" but by 3 extremely professional actors who have played out most of their careers in theatres nationwide.

All three have also been to the Devonshire Park Theate before. John Pennington (Foggy Dewhurst) having appeared in Wife Begins At 40. We have also seen Tim Kightley in Dad's Army, alongside Leslie Grantham. Harry Dickman had previously amazed us as a brilliant Albert Steptoe in the UK tour of Steptoe and Son.

Steven Pinder in Last of The Summer WineThis trio works extremely well together in creating on the stage the screen characters that millions are familiar with.

This stage episode written by Roy Clarke is "The Moonbather". A streaker is on the loose - only appeaing when the moon is full (amazingly I don't think a joke about full mooning was ever put in to the script).

Steven Pinder plays bungling bugle blasting bobby Gifford Bewmont who is not so hot on the trail of streaker Mr Pilbeam, played by Tony Adams. Steven is another familiar face at the Devonshire Park having previously appeared alongside Sara Crowe (currently clotheless in the West End in Calendar Girls) in the comedy drama Private Lives.

Ruth Madoc meanwhile is cast as Meg who plays the sister of Samantha (Gillian Axtell) who Foggy Dewhurst (John Pennington) has set his sights on.

The other characters are mainly incidental minor roles required by the plot. This includes the role of Nora Batty (Estelle Collins) who, perhaps surprisingly for ardent fans, has little to do in the show.

As I said some time ago this is a gentle comedy that just runs along nicely. In the second half it gradually builds to a traditional farce-like-bedlam-finale.

Star of the show? Well the celebrity stars are teriffic and friendly too. But best performance has to go to Harry Dickman. As regards to taking on the characters of the older icons in comedy Harry is an acting genius. I am sure none of the cast will mind me saying he is central to this show and is absolutely hilarious.

Last Of The Summer Wine was a pleasant, enjoyable, evening out for us. It's never going to break box office records and it's not going to be remembered as the funniest comedy of all time.

But it's a darned site better than sitting in the hotel lounge waiting for "Two Little Ducks", "Tony's Den", or a "Christmas Cake" to pop out of the bingo ball juggling machine!

Here's wishing the cast good luck for their forthcoming tour.
3 out of 5 for Last Of The Summer Wine 2009 production Print This Entry

1 comment:

  1. My maiden name is Barbara Dickman and I have or had a cousin in the UK, Robert Dickman. I wonder if Harry Dickman is related? Robert's father, my uncle, was Harry Dickman also.

    Is there any way I can get in touch with Harry Dickman?

    thank you,
    Barbara Dickman Rosenbaum


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