Absolutely Fabulous on stage: A tribute show Review by Miqael Domingo
Directed by Faeron Wheeler
Presented at the Masque Theatre
Move over Kardashians! Get out of the way, Real Housewives of wherever! Edina “Eddy” Monsoon (Bernie Jacobs) and Patsy Stone (Julie Summers) are in town to show us how to really live life.
The story for this stage tribute has been adapted from the much-loved Absolutely Fabulous TV series (combining four episodes) and showcases many of the most popular characters.
Truth be told, I’ve got little to no history with the original sitcom (though I’ve been aware of it) but that didn’t keep me from being unexpectedly entertained with this latest production while constantly trying to catch my breath through all the belly laughs it incited.
The cast is uproariously funny and pay great attention to detail in emulating the sitcom on stage.
(Yes, I did some research on the show to confirm that).
It’s obviously a must watch for fans.
Where do I begin with this cast? They slip into these roles so naturally with their comedic timing, never slipping up, their contagious enthusiasm for the series clearly showing in their performances with a few stand-outs as always.
Bernie Jacobs nicely plays up Eddy’s ludicrous behaviour while never going too over the top to the point of losing her character. The easily likeable Regina Malan as Eddy’s unappreciated daughter Saffron is an effective “straight woman” to the rest.
The scene-stealing Julie Summers was beaming with character as Patsy along with her insatiable cynicism in her line delivery. The all-too-delightful Su Cunningham performs with so casually that it manages to add weight to her role as Eddy’s doting mother, and Kathryn Griffiths’s Jackie brings some subtle substance with the humour in a brief but very memorable role.
The production’s re-creation of a sitcom setting did catch me off guard, and it is highly admirable, but, unfortunately, what works on TV doesn’t always translate smoothly to the stage. Due to a sitcom’s frequent scene changes, it’s understandable that the production would have a lot of scene transitions, but while a TV series has advert breaks and immediate cuts, the stage version ends up feeling a lot longer than it should, with the flow slowly breaking as it goes on.
Its structure didn’t always work for me, but if you’re a fan of the series, I really can’t see you not finding tons to enjoy in this tribute production that feels like a love letter to it all.
The fact that it even won over a newcomer like me proves that familiarity with the show is far from a necessity, and that truly is testament to the passionate efforts of the cast and crew. Absolutely Fabulous was simply absolutely fabulous, darling.