Based on the famous sitcom of the 60s and 70s, a theatre adaptation of the classic Steptoe and Son came to Poole’s Lighthouse last week.
Emma Rice, the director, took four episodes from Ray Galton and Alan Simpson’s original scripts to create the play.
The performance from the main characters, Mike Shepherd as Albert, the father, Dean Nolan as Harold, the son, and Kirsty Woodward, were enjoyable, particularly, Kirsty Woodward who presented multiple roles which were tender, flirtatious and sentimental.
Her characters actually explained the background of the lives of the father and son. She represented the world outside, the past, the present and the future.
The story went beyond the two men’s lives and reflected more of the whole environment at the time.
Another main element was the music, which successfully created a different atmosphere. The use of classic songs was brilliant, numbers such as “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” by Louis Armstrong, “Always On My Mind” by Elvis Presley or “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones. With these famous tones, the show was made more accessible to the audience.
This play is obviously trying to explore what’s behind the laughs. It put much emphasis on delivering the emotion between father and son, the loneliness inside them, the dilemma of life and the powerlessness of man in the face of fate. It is a fair effort to ensure that the comedy has deeper thought and meaning.
However, in order to emphasise the subtext, it may appear too pretentious. It feels like the director worried too much about the essence of this play and intentionally made some special scenes to make sure the audience would understand what’s behind the witty lines.
Steptoe and Son is a co-production between Kneehigh theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Image from KneehighTheatre