Review: Coronation Street On Stage

By Janet McAllister

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If soap opera is like life on caffeine - marriages, affairs, babies and break-ups follow each other rapidly - then this show is like life on speed: the events happen all at once.
If soap opera is like life on caffeine - marriages, affairs, babies and break-ups follow each other rapidly - then this show is like life on speed: the events happen all at once.

My co-reviewer, Iris, has been watching Coronation Street since the first episode 52 years ago, and could be dragged away from her telly for the stage show only because she had Coro on auto record. "But I'm not a fanatic!" she says.

Still, as I've never seen an episode, she knew a smidgen more than me - useful because this show is one for the fans. A trip down the Street's memory lane, it depicts highlights of the programme's history.

Directed by Fiona Buffini, six polished actors whip in and out of over 50 characters (wigs mistress Barbara Taylor deserves a special mention). All "feisty matriarchs" and "flighty pieces", the women shine, and some of the caricatures and accents are better than others. Jo Mousley has Deidre's tendon grimace down pat while her Hilda Ogden is spot-on.

"It's lovely to see her again after all this time," said Iris.

William Roache plays the show's narrator instead of his Coro alter ego Ken Barlow, so he gets to read his lines from a big red book - and yet he still fluffed an entrance.

But, for 80, he looks wonderfully well.

If soap opera is like life on caffeine - marriages, affairs, babies and break-ups follow each other rapidly - then this show is like life on speed: the events happen all at once.

To avoid the monotony of crisis repetition, one complicated love quadrangle is shown as a live silent movie; another is a hilarious cod ballet (Hilda-like headscarves take the place of swan headdresses).

Jonathan Harvey's well-written script is amusing enough and Liz Ascroft's clever set has better indoor-outdoor flow than any home in Britain. The effect is a thin and airy Coro skit show with the production values of a smash hit musical.


Review

What: Coronation Street On Stage
When: Until April 6
Where: Civic Theatre, The Edge
Reviewer: Janet McAllister

- NZ Herald

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