Birds still flying high

Back on tour: Dorien (Lesley Joseph), Sharon (Pauline Quirke) and Tracey (Linda Robson)

Birds of a Feather

Belgrade Theatre

*****

What a privilege to be at the very first wonderful night of the 2013 tour of such an enjoyable show. If you loved Birds of a Feather on the BBC, this is a topical update starring the usual team of sisters Sharon (Pauline Quirke), Tracey (Linda Robson) and sex-mad ex-neighbour Dorien (Lesley Joseph).

It's still daisy fresh, a bit plot-light but it doesn't matter, the magic still exists and the first night audience rewarded the cast with a well-deserved standing ovation.

It's virtually a laugh a line – a reprise of the bitchy class rivalry of Sharon and Dorien with Tracey as go-between. It's an interesting point about class fighting styles and Dorien labels the sisters ‘The Real EastEnders'. To an EastEnder (such as me) Chigwell is posh and the ‘des res' is a vestige of Tracey's marriage to Darryl from the proceeds of a swimming pool business with a bit of scallywagging on the side.

The plot involves the reawakening of the friendship between the sisters and Dorien (stll glamorous) now divorced and owner of a retirement home, ‘Cherish' for the well–off elderly, where the Polish staff has left en masse so she recruits Sharon and Tracey as admin and cook.

This leads by a comically circuitous route to the untimely demise of an elderly and well-heeled ‘guest', and Dorien's favourite, Mr Zimmerman. He had recently changed his will in Dorien's favour so the family and the Met are on her tail for poisoning him.

The subplot of Tracey's son (born in the final episode of the BBC series) Travis (Charlie Quirke – Pauline's son) the overprotected child who has been told his father is dead – except he has been recently released from ‘Her Majesty's Holiday Camp'.

The scene changes were well used, with some doddering inmates setting up a Bingo and Karaoke scene. Then the second scene change has those wonderful whirling newspaper front pages – in a wonderful touch The Guardian has spelt poison as poisson!

There are some moments of pure magic – too many to recount but a flavour might be when Dorien calls Sharon the ‘Poster girl for the British underclass' which she takes as a compliment! Sharon was worrying that one of her conquests was ‘HMV positive' I'm still laughing at that one! All in all, this is a corker, well worth seeing and full of laughter To 02-03-12. On Nationwide tour until 29-06-13.

Jane Howard 

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