Canal Street Online Manchester

The Good Life

The Good Life

The Good Life

Mention the names Margo, Jerry, Barbara and Tom to people of a certain age and it will bring back fond memories of a suburban snob and her down-to-earth self-sufficient neighbours. John Esmonde and Bob Larbey's The Good Life was a firm favourite of 1970's TV and continues its popularity through ongoing broadcasts. Now adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams, can it hold its own and reimagine cherished memories?

Tom Good turns 40 and decides to give up his job as a plastic cereal toy developer. With the agreement of his wife Barbara, they embark on a new venture in their Surbiton semi-detached home as eco-warriors, turning lawns into allotments and animal pens, and turning produce into food, wine and electricity. Whilst neighbour Jerry Leadbetter is amused by the Good’s change of lifestyle, his wife Margo is horrified!

The star of the night is the set, which cleverly revolves to reveal the homes of the Goods and Leadbetters. But a sitcom relies on a belief in the situation it references. Self-sufficiency became popular during the recent lockdown months, but more as a fad than a lifestyle choice. What the Goods did in the 70s may be more commonplace today, but the situations they find themselves in, and the characters portrayed feel dated. A farce can get away with innuendo, this sitcom falls flat on the PC front.

The script borrows from classic moments of the TV series including the runt piglet and Geraldine the goat (great animatronics!), but it all feels rather flat. The biggest laugh came when Rufus Hound fluffed his lines (but I’m left wondering if that moment happens every night…). The cast try their best, however they are not of the calibre of the originals. Rufus Hound (Tom) and Dominic Rowan (Jerry) are the more successful of the leads, with Sally Tatum (Barbara) doing an impersonation of Felicity Kendal and Preeya Kalidas (Margo) possibly better cast as Dorien in Birds of a Feather.

They tried hard, perhaps a little too hard. The older members of the audience appreciated the memories, but for me this was not a joyous trip down memory lane.

Garry Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Media

Lyric Theatre, Lowry: Oct 26th - 30th 2021. Tix here.

Published: 28-Oct-2021 (6428)

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