I MUST confess my heart sank when I heard the RET was wheeling out this theatrical dinosaur, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer, feel good pleasure of Tanika Gupta’s invigorating modern day adaptation.
We’re in the Ancoats of Manchester in the 80’s and the piece is set among the Asian community. Gupta, while retaining the spirit of Brighouse’s northern comedy, has successfully tweaked the original to make it a hilarious play for today.
Henry Hobson, a patriarch in name alone is still trying to keep his daughters on a tight rein. In this version he’s called Hari and the cobblers of the of the 1915 tale has now become a tailor’s shop, where he bullies talented employee Ali Mossop, Will in the original.
Poor Ali does a very good impression of a rabbit caught in headlights - he’s scared of everyone and everything. From his employer’s hot temper to the prospect of making love to his wife Durga on their wedding night.
Esh Alladi steals the show as Ali, treating us to a lesson in comic timing I urge aspiring actors not to miss. The scenes between him and Hari Hobson are pure comedy gold. Tony Jayawardena excels in this role, so funny when he realises that his reputation as a pillar of his community is now firmly in tatters.
Attractive and elegant, Shalini Peiris is perfect for the role of Durga, Maggie in the original play. It’s impossible not to warm to this gifted actress as she, the undisputed heroine of the play, stands up to her domineering dad, a graduate from the school of hard knocks.
In singling out these three performances I’m implying there are weak ones in director Atri Banerjee’s vibrant and tight knit cast which simply isn’t the case.
They give the impression they enjoy every second they’re on stage as I’m sure you will watching them.
Feel good theatre simply doesn’t get any better than this.
Until July 6. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ****