Review by Marilyn Barber
When I was handed a programme and saw that Estelle Hughes was playing Hyacinth Bucket I knew she would nail it.
And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. From the moment her strident tones echoed from the back of the audience as she made her way to the stage in a purposeful way, she embodies the character made so famous by actress Patricia Routledge in the hugely successful TV series.
Although it too was written by Roy Clarke, the bonus for the audience is that this play is a stage version and not an amalgam of episodes from the TV series.
Hyacinth’s neighbour Emmet is rehearsing the annual play, a murder mystery set in the 1930s, assisted by his sister Liz.
And yes, you’ve guessed it – Hyacinth feels she just has to have a part – and an important one at that.
However, she ends up with two roles – as a titled lady and as a cook, and she is quite simply hilarious in both – with the Hyacinth we know and love bubbling to the surface throughout.
Steve Hawker is a master of exasperation, and never was it more called upon than in this role. Always in control, he is in character every single moment in his time on the stage, whether he is speaking or desperately trying to keep his temper.
Julie Gower is the perfect foil as his sister, who wants to keep everyone happy.
Geoffrey Hughes played the loveable slob Onslow – Hyacinth’s embarrassing brother-in-law – in the TV series, and when Mark Ward appears on the stage in the role, it is like watching his double – accent, vest and all! Brilliant.
Dawn Hollington is a great character actress, and she has the chance to really go to town with her portrayal of the clingy Daisy.
At first shy but soon to find his inner soul, Mike Tong is a convincing Mr Milson who soon falls under the charms of the flighty Rose, played with a lot of humour by Nikki Wilson.
Chris Hughes is suitably imperious as Mr Debden, the woman Hyacinth wanted to impress, whilst David Pile’s cameo part as Daddy, is almost a show stopper – and on the first night got a round of applause as he exited complete with rifle and gas mask.
The cast is completed with small roles for Helen Kuster and Roger Barrington.
And where was Hyacinth’s husband Richard in all this? He doesn’t appear, but she speaks to him on her mobile – frequently – and we are able to imagine him at the back of the audience.
Ferndown Drama hadn’t been able to been on stage since the end of 2019. Oh, how we’ve missed them!
It runs until this Saturday 30 April. You must get a ticket.
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