When you’re thinking about things to do – often going to gigs or the theatre – you come across things which make you think ‘shall we?’. These are a long way from the ‘must get up at 8am on a Saturday morning and have three laptops at the ready for the on-sale’ moments and the Barry Humphries Farwell Tour was one of these ‘take it or leave it’ things. Given that we were getting tickets for several other things, we decided to go for it – after all , we’ve never seen Dame Edna and she never fails to amuse – and she didn’t.
A night at the theatre is always slightly marred when it involves going to the now very run-down Manchester Opera House and this one wasn’t any different – queues to get into the building, queues to walk down a corridor, queues for the loos and no sign of a queue, but just an unruly and uncomfortable scrum, at the tiny bar. Anyway, settling in for the first half Les Patterson was funny enough – some complete belly laugh moments like his reference to new character Gerard Patterson (a very new Humphries creation and the ‘theatrical’ brother of Les) as ‘a v@gina-decliner’ – but then things took a turn. As part of his farewell tour Humphries unearthed one of his earliest characters, Sandy Stone – a hauntingly-pale ghostly figure who has had a life of family tragedy. Whilst this foray into dark humour was a tangent to the ‘in your face’ (literally if you were in the front row) style of Les, it put an enormous dampner on the mood. A bad call Mr Humphries….but at least we’d pre-ordered a whole bottle of interval wine for the two of us, and OMG did we need it!
It’s fair to say that Dame Edna is timeless and Humphries freely admitted trotting out old material and tricks, but it worked as it all seemed so fresh. This is clearly the character where he comes into his own and she hasn’t lost any of the wittiness and edge that has made her a household name across generations (Humphries first donned the purple wig and specs in 1955!). Once the laughter got going pre-interval memories faded (although the ¾ pint of wine each helped too) and it was time for the tried and tested finale – Gladi-waving! Following this, a rather touching final word from the man himself, with some lovely reference to his family connections to Manchester, and we were done.
All in all a mixed bag….’Should we have?’….probably, but once was enough and will definitely give the next Farewell Tour a miss!
‘Looooofthansaaaaaaa’ – the unmistakable potty-mouth of Pam Ann is something of a gay rite of passage. Although she has a cult following amongst the trolley-dolley community, she has become a regular fixture on the Manchester scene since she led the Annual Manchester Pride Parade two years ago. It was lovely that her opening words to the audience at the Manchester Opera House (they’ve still not found a mop and bucket to deal with the toilets, by the way) reflected how much she loved the City and its LGBT community.
Now, I have seen Pam live a few times, so I recognised a number of the gags. However, I managed to refrain from heckling every punch line like the extremely annoying super-fan in the Stalls – who was only just about silenced with a very barbed ‘OK….you’ve had your attention, now shut the f**k up!’ from Pam. It does have to be said that some of the ground she covers is standard….Virgin Airlines employ thick bimbos, Lufthansa hostesses are all Helga from Allo Allo and the collective noun for a group of British Airways Cabin Crew is a stable! But it’s clever too because she manages to develop these stock gags a bit further every time I see her and keeps it current – and this show has some brilliant additional material drawing on recent news reports about the apparent chaos that goes on in the skies
Where she really comes into her own – and where she also manages to plumb new depths of filth and inappropriateness (she’s not for the faint-hearted) – is in improvisation, which formed most of the second half. This demonstrated that only the attention-seeking and stupid sit in the front three rows, but that’s good as it resulted in some great comedy for the rest of us neatly tucked away in the Gallery (or the Asylum Seekers’ Centre as she called it!).
All in all, a completely outrageous 2 hours of comedy which was the perfect antidote to a long week. If you’ve not seen Pam Ann and you think you can take it, get involved!
Brandy & Coke love the theatre, so when Priscilla hit the road to tour around the UK (particularly with Jason Donovan back in the role of Tik/Mitzi) a Friday night out was planned.
Setting aside the hellish experience of visiting Manchester’s crumbling Opera House – where we are fairly certain that the wine is bottled from the puddles of water to be found on the floor in the decay-ridden toilets – the show is impressive. The costume changes are numerous and every one more extravagant than the last; there are some outstanding performances and, all in all, it’s a good tribute to the iconic film that Brandy & Coke have sung-along to on the sofa so many times.
Jason Donovan got the biggest cheers from the crowd and was a good sport when it came to the endless run of Kylie-gags that were added ‘especially for…’ him! From time to time there were some dodgy Australian accents going on which made Brandy & Coke think that Ayr’s Rock was somewhere in upstate New York, but the classic Bernadette lines like ‘that’s the only bang you’re ever gonna get, sweetheart’, ‘Oh Felicia, where f**k are we?’ and ‘Just what we need – a c*ck in a frock on a rock!’ saved the day.
Well worth seeing , though don’t expect the classic 70s track ‘Never been to me’ as it didn’t make it into the musical – shame.