Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
It may be fifteen years since Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson last regularly graced the small screen as Essex siblings Sharon and Tracey in the long-running sit-com about a pair of convicts wives, but, judging by this stage play that picks up their story, their common touch is still held looked on with affection. As is too Sharon and Tracey's man-eating neighbour Dorian, played with Medusa-haired abandon by Lesley Joseph.
While Sharon and Tracey are still living together in a nouveau-riche fly-by-bight existence, much has changed. Tracey's son is now sixteen, and his serial jailbird dad is seemingly reduced to ashes. When the pair are summonsed to an old people's care home by Dorian, the trio are reunited in an unlikely plot framed around the death of an elderly resident. In the mist of all this come sly contemporary nudges about police corruption, tabloid sensationalism, the riots, references to both Cameron and Blair, as well as the reality TV show they accidentally sired, all undercut with a stream of all-girls-together innuendo..
Beyond this, at its sharply observed comic best this show is saying something about the changing social mores of an aspirant working class, about dysfunctional families, and about ageing (dis)gracefully. All this is undermined by an ending that looks more Cell Block H than anything, which may be the fault of over-egging things by having four of the TV show's original writers – Gary Lawson and John Phelps, and Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran – penning the script for Simon James Green's production. In the end, this doesn't matter. The audience recognise themselves in Sharon, Tracey, Dorian and all their failings, and that's what counts.
The Herald, April 11th 2013