Steptoe and Son
The Lowry, Manchester
20-24 November 2012
Reviewed by Alwyn Murray
Steptoe and Son, Opening night on the 20 November 2012 till the 24 November at the Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays in Greater Manchester. A co-production between Kneehigh and West Yorkshire Playhouse, directed and adapted by Emma Rice.
Steptoe and Sonis a British sitcom written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson about two rag and bone men living in Oil Drum Lane, a fictional street in Shepherd's Bush, London. Focusing on the conflict of father and son. Albert Steptoe played by Mike Shepherd, a "dirty old man", who is an old rag and bone man, set in his grimy and grasping ways who lives with his 37-year-old son Harold played by Dean Nolan who is filled with own social aspirations and ambitions. But these ambitions are continually prevented by Albert with his behavior and sabotage as they have an intense and difficult relationship but dependent on each other. The result is an evening that shows Albert and Harold – one a veteran of the first world war, the other of National Service – are as much victims of the period into which they have been born as they are of each other. It was bereft of women in their lives although beautifully pointed out by Kirsty Woodward played “Woman”, who represents lost wife, lost mother and lost future also providing temptation and intrigue as she floats in and out of each sketch.
Having gone with an open mind to enjoy it, in fact I did not enjoy it I loved it. Interspersed with vintage songs of the 1960s and the dancing was amazing, the sequence in which Albert and Harold get dressed to Elvis Presley's Always on My Mind was wonderful . It was such an enjoyable performance, entertaining never dull, for three brilliant actors wordy dialogue of a well-loved drama from scripts originally on TV was just superb. I really enjoyed the way Kneehigh added their own twist on the tale, but still brought out the angst of Harold and the grumpiness of Albert, moments of comic humour and emotional scenes between father and son. The West Country accents worked very well, all in all a thoroughly enjoyable theatre moment for me and my partner, and we both feel that there is nothing better than 'live' theatre performances. At the finale the cast received a rapturous applause and well deserved! This production will be a huge success and I urge anybody who loves the theatre to go and see Steptoe and Son for a great evening.
For more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com