View as published at NG-Magazine
It's amazing how the Chuckle Brothers continue to make audiences laugh after more than two decades of Chucklevision. Not many comedy acts can claim that even today's children know the catchphrases from their 20-year old act. Their slapstick comedy is pastiche to some of the earliest TV comedy acts, such as Laurel and Hardy & Charlie Chaplin, which sees them inexpertly moving furniture, falling down manholes and slipping on banana skins.
As the house lights dipped to cheers, Butlins style holiday entertainment music takes over, and the audience start clapping in unison. The brothers haven't even been seen and the audience are raving. This is quickly put to a stop by 'Widow Twanky', played by sprightly stick-thin actor who struggles to speak high-pitched and with a mock northern accent at the same time. The part is one of a strong woman, and the poor actor cast to play it struggles quite visibly. Against the really quite simple painted set, the first ten minutes feel like you're sitting in the local secondary school, though I'd expect they might have done a better job. The audience is waining, time to bring out the brothers? Alas no, not yet.
The scene changes to that of the princess in her palace. She and her sidekick; 'Sunshine' (cringe) suddenly break into ' I can show you the world', the famous song featured in the Disney adaptation. Of course this is put to an overly choreographed dance routine featuring scantily clad backing dancers. For some reason pantomime dance routines insist on moves and costumes that continually flash the dancers' underwear. Obviously this isn't for the children's benefit. More likely it's to attract the men's attention. This left me feeling a bit sick though as every dancer was around the age of 16!
A half hour into the show the Chuckle Brothers finally appear to shouts and cheers. Despite the dodgy set, questionable stage-writing and baffling performances from the supporting cast, Barry and Paul kept us highly entertained. It was brilliant to hear all the children echo the brother's catch phrase 'Elló' welcoming. I had no idea they were still big on children's TV, but with the BBC commissioning a fifteenth series from the 60 & 63 year-olds, the boys are obviously doing fine.
For many children pantomime is their only experience of theatre. Saying that; the same is true for many adults. As pantomime's go, this one lacked any kind of all-round quality or production value. I know it's just a panto, but even still, the show shouldn't rest on the laurels of it's lead actors.
If you want to see the Chuckle Brothers then this is the show for you. Long-time fans will appreciate the inclusion of the skit which won the pair (along with two of their other brothers) ITV's 'New Faces' talent contest in 1979. If you want one panto to watch this year then this isn't it. There are bound to be better alternatives available. The show is still laugh-out-loud funny, but you get the feeling the weight of the show is carried by the Chuckles.
"To me, to you"