It's already been quite the year for sequels judging by this month's itinerary of home-grown blockbuster film and theatre. Hot on the heels of T2: Trainspotting comes this second stadium-size outing that puts an extended version of Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan's sit-com phenomenon onstage once more following its predecessor's record-breaking 2014 run.
Whether their return is down to a collective nostalgic need to revisit and rediscover these twin touchstones of popular culture or not, they have more in common than you might think. Both T2 and Still Game are set in an unreconstructed and largely male dominated world. Both too focus on old pals regrouping for one last hurrah. While the point is never laboured, there is something there too in both about ageing and mortality.
So it goes with Still Game 2, which begins with a filmed introduction from Methadone Mick, Hemphill and Kiernan's most recent and most youthful addition to Craiglang's community of otherwise pensionable ne'er-do-wells. With Jack and Victor entering through the auditorium aisles, it is to a rock star style welcome. The fireworks that follow as each regular character is introduced both revels in and pastiche's their household name status.
With the first act moving between Jack and Victor's living room, the Clansman bar and Navid's shop, the never-ending limbo they exist in finds Paul Riley's Winston somehow instigating Mark Cox's forever freeloading Tam to take the gang on a second-half cruise. This change of scene smacks of the sort of things that happened when 1970s sit-coms were brought to the big-screen, as the staff of Grace Brothers department store took a sojourn to sunny Spain in Are You Being Served, while the On the Buses team parked up at a North Wales holiday camp.
The assorted carry-ons that follow in Michael Hines' production tread a similar innuendo-laden path, as Kiernan's Jack, Hemphill's Victor and co make assorted plays for Lorraine McIntosh's smoky-voiced chanteuse. Sanjeev Kohli's Navid and Jane McCarry's Isa explore their sexual chemistry, while Gavin Mitchell's Harold Steptoe-like Boaby finds his sea legs in a different way.
The gags may be even older than Jack and Victor, but it is the infectious warmth of such familiarity that is part of Still Game's appeal, and no-one onstage is making any pretences that the show is anything other than throwaway fun, delivered here on the grandest of scales.
The Herald, February 6th 2017