tue 22/10/2019

The Catherine Tate Show Live, Wyndham's Theatre review - sketch show favourites on stage | reviews, news & interviews

The Catherine Tate Show Live, Wyndham's Theatre review - sketch show favourites on stage

The Catherine Tate Show Live, Wyndham's Theatre review - sketch show favourites on stage

Catchphrases galore and great fun from the queen of sketch comedy

Catherine Tate as bolshie schoolgirl Lauren Cooper

In 2016 Catherine Tate performed live comedy for the first time since her Edinburgh Fringe days at the beginning of her career, and the show was deservedly both a critical and box-office success. She later took it to Australia and New Zealand and now finishes with a West End run, with some updated sketches and two new cast members.

Tate's best-known characters from her television series all make an appearance; Derek Faye, the elderly gay man in denial of his sexuality (“How very dare you”), Irish nurse Bernie, passive-aggressive office worker Kate (“Go on, have a guess”), Geordie Georgie, collecting for yet another charity fundraiser, and the permanently outraged Northern couple (“Dirty, evil bastards”). But the two everyone wants to see are, of course, bolshie schoolgirl Lauren (“Am I bovvered”) and the foul-mouthed OAP Nan. When they make their first appearances on stage, the audience erupts.

Tate and co-writer Brett Goldstein tease us through the show with pre-recorded videos of Nan being phoned by radio presenter Nick Grimshaw, who is offering the old girl free tickets for Catherine Tate's live show. But Nan is having none of it; she doesn't want to see “that ginger”, so can't he send her a DVD of John Barrowman instead?

The video clips are shown between sketches to allow costume changes and redressing of sets and are, even at the second time of viewing, still very funny. And, in the case of the two male techies in the sound booth who edge tentatively towards declaring their love for each other, touchingly so.

There is a catchphrase for every character of course, but that doesn't (for the most part) reduce them to mere stereotypes; we all know or live with these people because they are based in reality, and brought wonderfully to life by Tate's forensic observation. Yet comedy, both in performance and perception of what's funny, changes over time, and there are moments when – despite Tate's great warmth as a performer – I wasn't entirely on board with a couple of the characters because they feel so not of our time.

That said, one of them that could be troublesome for modern audiences – the Northern Irish mother who is so proud of her son John (“He's a gay man now”) – gives Tate an opportunity to do some lengthy audience interaction, and it works a treat, as did her final sketch as Nan, disrupting people in the stalls when she eventually turns up. Breaking the fourth wall, chucking in loads of callbacks, going in and out of character and riffing on whatever gems the audience throw in her path all show what a quick-witted and versatile performer Tate is.

Great support is given by long-time collaborator Niky Wardley and two new cast members, David O'Reilly and Alex Carter. Director Sean Foley keeps things moving along, and this is a treat of evening. 

The lengthy audience interaction worked a treat


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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