Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Dying for a laugh

cast of wife after death

As Dave Thursby prepares to go out in a blaze of glory . . . well blaze at any rate, his nearest and dearest look on with Harvey (Roger Warren), Vi (Amanda Grant), widow Laura (Stephanie Harris), widow Kay . . . don't ask . . . (Jean Hulme), Jane (Rachael Louise Pickhard) and Kevin (Tony O'Hagan). Pictures: Sami Moghraby

Wife after death

Hall Green Little Theatre


ONE must never speak ill of the dead, difficult when it comes to some dear departed admittedly, and doubly difficult when the ill sort of appears to speak for itself as in this blackish comedy from the pen of Rising Damp writer, Eric Chappell.

As a nation we are rather squeamish about death, it has become a ritual, and a rather expensive one at that, but when comedian and sitcom actor Dave Thursby shuffles off his mortal coil, widow Laura, grief(ish) stricken consoles herself with a new fetching outfit in tasteful black and gives Dave star billing, in his coffin, under a spotlight, dressed in his lucky – although not any more it seems – blue tuxedo.

Stephanie Harris gives us a widow beside herself with . . . well self-importance really, a woman of substance, thanks to Dave and she is not about to let anyone forget it.

Also thanking Dave for his comfortable lifestyle is his scriptwriter Harvey, played with a deadpan, laconic cynicism by Roger Warren. Harvey can’t resist coming out with barbed one liners and hates the fuss being made over his best friend Dave’s demise. Dave would have hated it, he declares as he steadily drinks his way through Dave’s bar as well as throwing in a few digs about TV makeover programmes and reality TV. Harvey is a sort of angry, middle aged man and Dave’s death has left a big hole in his life and

Wife Vi, is a long time passenger on the roller coaster ride with Dave, taking his often pointed jokes - “here pull up two chairs and sit down Vi” - and watching Harvey spend all his time with best mate Dave.

Then there is Kevin, played in a constant state of not rocking the boat no matter how choppy the waters by Hall Green regular Tony O’Hagan. Kevin is Dave’s agent, Dave is Kevin’s most important and most lucrative client.

And finally there is Kevin’s quiet, slim wife Jane, a quiet, somewhat dull, unexciting woman played by Rachael Louise laura and HarveyPickard. She looks as if she would not say boo to a gosling, let alone a goose, and life and soul of the party Dave used to call her stick insect and describe her legs as two pipe cleaners out for a walk.

And there we have Dave’s immediate nearest and dearest assembled in the living room, open coffin in the corner with Dave awaiting the call, or at least the undertaker, for his cue for his final curtain call amid an assembled glittering array of celebrities . . .

Widow Laura with her late husband's scriptwriter, Harvey.


Until, that is, the arrival of Kay, played with a sexy twinkle by Jean Hulme, in a flighty little black number, more slinky than sombre, who we discover was a chorus girl Dave married one summer season in Cromer when he was an unknown comic.

And with that particular closet thrown open the skeletons come rattling out leaving the stage looking like a charnel house.

Good old Dave was . . . well the old bit was right, but as for good? How many nights was Harvey covering for him, telling Laura Dave and he were working late, and what was Dave doing when working late . . . and with who?

What happened to the comedian with the drunken pianist sketch which became Dave’s trademark, or to Dave’s mum and dad? How about his son no one knew about? And then there were the friendships, or lack of them, the lies, the loves, hates,, tax fiddles, business double crosses, acts of revenge, affairs . . . and that wife and son from the past among the sand dunes of Cromer.

One should not speak ill of the dead, but no one is going to turn down a veritable treasure trove of gossip and revelation which comes to a head at the disposal of the ashes when Dave is scattered to the four winds and passes among them somewhat earlier than planned – twice . . . the third time was an accident – as even more episodes of Dave’s own reality show life come out.

The result is a very funny comedy with some lovely lines and asides as Dave’s life is unravelled. Directors Helen Dawson and Steve Parsons keep up the good pace essential for comedy, and there are some nice touches such as Harvey throwing away pages of his eulogy as bits are banned or found to be in Kevin’s speech – then collecting them up again as Kevin dissolves into an emotional wreck.

It is also good to see a nice, clean open set – with good solid doors that don’t make walls wobble when they are opened and closed. It gave us a very comfortable middle class living room setting the scene from the moment he curtains opened.

I would like to know what Harvey was drinking though, gin and . . . something clear out of a decanter? Still Harvey is a writer and these writers have some strange ideas.

This is the last of the season at Hall Green and is guaranteed to send you off on your summer hols with a smile on your face. Even Dave would have had a laugh. To 26-07-14.

Roger Clarke


Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate