Friday, December 9

Rita, Sue and Bob Too! – Theatre Royal, St Helens

This show was hilarious – I have to say that from the beginning -as it was rip- roaringly hilarious play and a true tonic to the soul!

I went to the wonderful St Helens Theatre Royal with my best mate, she was my best mate from school, and we had loved the 1987 cult classic film when we saw it decades ago and so went together to rekindle memories and see how the live show compared to the film. It did not disappoint.

With a strong and local cast of Michael Parr (Emmerdale) as Bob, Jessica Ellis (Hollyoaks) as Michelle, Crissy Rock (Benidorm) as Mum, Jamie Greer as Dad, Kay Nicholson as Rita, and Olivia Sloyan (Blood Brothers) as Sue, it was set to be a remarkable show. From the onset, when the announcer warned that the show had bad language and some scenes of a sexual nature the audience were ‘up for it’ cheering and clapping even before the curtain (adorned with the vision of a glowing glitterball) – had been raised.

The story is of two school friends Rita and Sue, two working class girls from a rundown council estate who are about to finish their final year at school. In their spare time, they earn money babysitting for married couple Bob and Michelle. Behind Michelle’s back, Bob embarks on an affair with both Rita and Sue, who take it in turns with him in his car in the countryside. Michelle eventually finds out and leaves lothario Bob. When Bob later develops a preference for Rita, the two girls fall out.

The first scene of the threesome in the car is hilarious and the auditorium roared with laughter – a laughter that made you glad to be alive. The cast deserved medals for not breaking into giggles in the scene – incredible.  The setting of each of these scenes was simple but effective – great work by the creative team Chantelle Nolan (director and producer), Jane Joseph ([producer) and Heather Fox (deputy stage manager) who all carried us effortlessly to the days of synthesizer music, vulgar décor, and chain- smoking hedonism.

Throughout the play the talented, engaging, and recognisable cast were endearing and credible. All were astounding but for me three stars need mentioning , the beer-swilling, swearing , aggressive father played by Jamie Greer, who was a late stand in for the late Duggie Brown (a beloved entertainer from our youth) , his staggers and outbursts were genius; Rita one of the promiscuous twosome, played by Kay Nicholson, the member with the least repertoire for me stood out, with her comical physical gestures and obvious ‘watch this space’ talent and of course the irrepressible Chrissie Rock – who’s scenes in this play were tremendous – especially when her costume wouldn’t ‘behave’, improvised effortlessly to the joy of all onlookers. I do want to say that every single member of the cast were worth a standing ovation and all got one as the play came to a close with the cast having us all up on our feet singing ‘gang banged’.  

It was so refreshing to see Michael Parr (Bob) from St Helens playing such an iconic part in his hometown, to be looked after to such high standards by the considerate and welcoming Theatre Royal team and to see such talent on a local stage. It was an evening of bliss and as we left the theatre everyone commented on what a great show it was and what a fun time had been had by all. Don’t miss out come and join in the fun too! Be warned this is a show for over 18’s only and may have you in fits of laughter!

The show is on Thursday 10th November to Sunday 13th November

Show times 7.30pm (Thursday/Friday), 3pm/8pm (Saturday) & 2pm/6pm (Sunday) 

Tickets –£22.50/£23.50

Theatre Royal Box office 01744 756000. www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

Reviewer: Jan Mellor

Reviewed: 9th November 2022

North West End UK Rating:  ★★★★

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