Acorn Antiques: The Musical
Acorn Antiques - the Musical
By Linda Walker, Ipswich Feb 2007
Yellow gloves, macaroons and a guest appearance from Ronnie Corbett. As 'Acorn Antiques' heads to Suffolk, I can't deny that I was unsure if this classic TV show would work on stage, even with Victoria Wood directing it.
Will Clifford get his memory back? Will Miss Babs finally find love? Will Mrs Overall's haemorrhoids ease enough to allow her to take the stage in Manchesterford's Am-Dram production? These are just some of the questions to ponder on as Victoria Wood's hit musical launches into a week-long run at the Ipswich Regent theatre.
I must admit that, like many of the other people in the nearly full theatre, I find it difficult to imagine Acorn Antiques without thinking of Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston and of course Victoria Wood. A firm favourite amongst BBC audiences back in the 1980's (which I can just about remember) the show's shaky sets and Wood's writing skills have kept a special place in our hearts. So when, in 2003, Wood announced "I've always wanted to write a musical and I couldn't resist the collision of song, dance and Mrs Overall," it’s unsurprising that theatre audiences were curious.
Acorn Antiques, BBC TV 1980s
The plot (which, like the set, is a little shaky) begins with the shop keepers of Manchesterford receiving a letter from the countess advising them that, unless profits improve, she will be selling the land to property developers and quaint stores like Acorn Antiques will be lost forever to 'The Hong Kong Thong and Panty Hut' and 'The Guilty Bean' (which has a very familiar green and white logo). Alongside this fairly simple plot, we also have the search for Miss Babs and Miss Berta's lost inheritance, a missing sister (Miss Bonnie) and a good dose of Macaroons.
Like a stick of rock, this show has Victoria Wood stamped straight through it. The show opens with a 'Chicago'-esque number which sees a fabulous selection of dancers, who lets just say, were slightly above size zero. In fact, there are several references to other musicals such as 'Les Miserables' and 'Blood Brothers', perhaps the influence of prolific (and indeed local) director Trevor Nunn. Several moments throughout the show, such as the inclusion of Wood's classic comedy tune 'We're Having A Holiday', Tony the Loan Shark's aversion to carbs (he was on the Fatkins diet) and the way that had led him into a sort of Faustian pact (where as long as he had no carbs, he would also have no feelings) and classic lines like Clifford's 'I'll handle this. I have a scrotum" won the audience over.
As well as the laughs, which were in abundance, there were many observations and critiques on modern life, not least with the inclusion of the 'The Guilty Bean (the world’s second biggest chain of coffee shops – "We're second so we grind harder”), and the ASBO-worthy youths.
The set was rickety and this, combined with first night glitches, including a picture-less TV and Miss Babs forgetting how to open the door only combined to make this show more charming. Ria Jones, who had the unenviable task of taking on Julie Walters' Mrs Overall role, was superb, and totally stole the show making a brilliant and closely observed job of the much-loved character
Overall I would say that, although not the best piece of theatre I have seen, this show is well worth a watch perhaps because it doesn't try to be. No, it’s not Julie Walters, and Victoria won't be hopping on stage at the end, but as long as you can remember that, then you are in for a fantastic night.
Acorn Antiques The Musical runs at the Ipswich Regent Monday 5th-Saturday 10th February 2007. Box office 01473 433100.
last updated: 11/04/2008 at 15:06
Have Your Say
What did you think of the performance?
stuff happened tht should n stuff happnd that shouldnt.
Best musical ever need to bring a soundtrack (cd) out.
Not as good as I had hoped it would be, although everyone round us seemed to be howling with laughter
Absolutely loved it, I was addicted to Acorn Antiques as a child and this didn't disappoint. Nice to see so many Ipswich people laughing!
What was with the guy dancer taking his top off and showing us his pecs and tatts for no apparent reason? Presumably the director asked him to?
An average show - a curate's egg springs to mind. Thank goodness my ticket only cost me a fiver otherwise I would hsve been a bit disappointed.