Review: Birds Of A Feather
Venue: Grand Opera House, Tuesday, June 25
It has been a long time, almost 15 years, since Birds Of A Feather was on TV. I have vague memories of watching it on a Sunday night with my mum, in what would now be classed as a very “safe” night of viewing, along with Keeping Up Appearances and Inspector Morse.
More than 100 episodes, almost ten years… this is a show ingrained in the nation’s consciousness. It centred on Essex girls Sharon (Pauline Quirke) and Tracey (Linda Robson), the wives of incarcerated men, living in Chigwell. Their neighbour, Dorien Green (Lesley Joseph) a wealthy but snobby woman, forever cheating on her husband, is a regular visitor to the sisters’ kitchen.
This stage version of the show is set in the present. The sisters still live together, but Tracey’s 16 year old son, Travis, now lives with them.
From the telly days, I recall Sharon and Tracey sitting in a kitchen, neighbour Dorien running in with whatever trauma the script called for that week. I also still know all the words to the theme tune apparently! For the stage production most of the action takes place in Tracey’s living room. Unlike the cosy setting of the sitcom, this space felt a touch too big for the jokes.
All of the main cast still have their chemistry and the writers play to the actresses’ strengths. Tracey plays the straight role to Sharon’s cheeky chappy character, Dorien pops up to be a little outrageous.
The audience enjoyed it immensely. I found myself smiling all the way through and there were a couple of really good belly laughs.
My only real criticisms are an ill-advised video section in the first half, which was too dark to see properly, while the second half felt a bit stretched out, again showing the sitcom roots. For me, it became a little melodramatic.
Pauline Quirke has some of the best comic timing I have seen in a long time, pulling it back from the brink of going too far.
Fans of the show, or anyone looking for a non-challenging night of funnies, won’t be disappointed. These are characters I would happily check in with every once in a while – the ensemble’s chemistry makes it a fun night out!