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Corrie! Reviewed

Joan Davies likes the Palace’s Corrie story but then she’s a Corrie fan

Published on April 5th 2011.

Corrie! Reviewed

A celebration of the nation’s longest running soap, Coronation Street, Jonathan Harvey’s play Corrie! rejoices in 50 years on the cobbles of Weatherfield in a nostalgia-fest of weddings, murders, hopes, disappointments and comedy.

This award-winning production started life last summer with a sell-out run at The Lowry. It returns to local audiences at The Palace Theatre, mid-way through a six month national tour and now sporting two tram accidents and an enlarged cast: a versatile troupe of six actors play fifty-five characters and deliver a loving and fast-paced tribute to Tony Warren’s local creation. Warren himself has described the play as ‘An insider’s affectionate romp through 50 dramatic years.’

He’s absolutely right. Writer Jonathan Harvey has concentrated on the stand-out key events, the ones you can’t fail to remember. A Street writer himself he’s made an excellent job of the selection. Following Warren’s approach the evening concentrates on the women: Deirdre, Gail, Bet, Hilda, Elsie, Ena and Annie Walker dominate with their stories of affairs, deception, largely unsuitable husbands and the need to hold their heads high.

Inevitably the little stories, the ones which contain much of the warmth and humour, are absent from a show like this; there just isn’t time for something like the slow-burn of the Norris-Rita relationship of daily niggles and genuine underlying friendship, nor for the slow measure of Emily’s tolerance as it expands to meet the changing world she finds surrounds her.

The cast is superbly hard-working and versatile and all play at least six characters. Peter Temple’s body language in the roles of Bet, Blanche and particularly Audrey is spot on, and he’s as good too when playing Jason or Roy.

Jo Mousley gives us such a tall Deirdre and such a diminutive Hilda that it’s hard to believe it’s all down to heel height. She also delivers the most emotional moment when, as the newly-widowed Hilda, she opens Stan’s glasses case. Some of the performances, following the writing, are deliberately caricatures. But Lucy Thackeray’s Elsie seems real enough and, and almost as real is her contrasting, innocent Raquel, asking Ken, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” in the belief that she’s commenting on the weather. Leanne Best’s Gail and Simon Chadwick’s Ken are affectionate and amusing caricatures.

You do have to be a Corrie fan to enjoy this. I qualify, as does the bulk of the audience, and the two hours are full of laughs of recognition and anticipation.

The short scenes are held together by a narrator. Charles Lawson who had played Jim McDonald took the role at The Lowry. However back in the real world, by which I mean Corrie on the telly, Jim is reprising his default position, in the Rovers Return and aiming for Liz’s bed, while his son Steve together with wife Becky plan to abduct two children and run away.

At the Palace Theatre Sherrie Hewson takes the role. She used to play Maureen who inexplicably became Maureen Holdsworth marrying the strange supermarket manager Reg. Actually compared with some husbands on the street Reg was pretty good: he did not try to murder anyone. Sherrie Hewson brings the right level of knowingness to the role of narrator, though could do with a better microphone in parts.

Fiona Buffini’s direction is effective in it’s handling of a so-many scenes. Design by Liz Ashcroft brings a superb three-level set with a viaduct, Kabin, Rovers Return and an archetypal terrace door. The costumes are terrific, accurate to the times and characters.

It’s certainly a fun evening out if you’re a fan. In Manchester of course there’s the added bonus of the chance to spot the real cast dotted among the audience.

Mon 4 – Sat 8 AprilThursay- Saturday eves 7.30pm Sat mat 2.30pm
Tickets: £13.50-£27.50

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carol17154April 6th 2011.

A spot on review!!It was a fun evening - Corrie's Shaun certainly enjoyed it. I could hear him laughing above the rest of the audience, most of whom I'm sure were ardent Corrie fans. My favourites? Ken, Gail, Hilda, Dierdre & Bet.Hilarious

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