Little Britain Live at the Edinburgh Playhouse

This Sunday evening just gone I had the fortune of attending the Little Britain Live stage show at Edinburgh’s Playhouse theatre. As the person who booked the tickets did so as soon as they came on sale we were sat on Row G in the stalls i.e. just 7 rows back from the stage.

Now I’m a casual watcher of Little Britain. I don’t own the DVD’s and I only watch the TV show when I see it on while flicking through the TV channels. On TV I appreciate some of the characters and, for the most part, they make me laugh. However I was a little cautious over how I’d find two hours of this being acted out live and whether it would be apparent that this was just a huge cash in on Little Britains success. I am happy to report that my apprehensions were completely unfounded: this was fantastically brilliant and funny entertainment. David Walliams and Matt Lucas have created a quite briliant production here that will be a must see for fans of Little Britain but hugely entertaining for casual observers like me. I can’t recommend this show enough.

It starts with a sketch with Lou & Andy. The wheelchair is unoccupied and Lou is asking the audience if they’ve seen him as he needs to get sat down in his seats before the show starts. Cue Andy jet packing in on a wire, with smoke a plenty. He swiftly drops out of the jet pack and into the wheelchair. This set the evening up nicely.

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Sketches of characters are glued together with video and commentary, giving the show good flow while the actors change costumes. The first hour seemed the more accomplished; whether this was due to the concept being fresher in the first hour or the quality of production being the best I’m not sure.

Highlights of Little Britain Live included:-

  • Ray McCoonie of Ye Olde Hotel. This was absolutely hysterical, especially with such a good performance by the gentleman trying to check out of his hotel!
  • The brilliant Lucas as the Hypnotist and an engaged couple trying to buy a ring: but the husband to be not wanting to spend more than £10
  • The travel agent
  • Dudley and his Thai bride; this was soooo funny!
  • Vicky Pollard being invited back to her former school by the headmaster to give a talk on how she’s “turned her life round”. The sight of her entering the school hall with seven push chairs all stuck to one another was as brilliant as Lucas’ performance of her. I think this would have been the highlight for many people.
  • Stars in their eyes… Walliams ran off stage as this character, straight past us, going absolutely crazy

Little Britain Live at The Edinburgh Playhouse (2) Little Britain Live at The Edinburgh Playhouse (3) Little Britain Live at The Edinburgh Playhouse (4)

The prime minister sketch was fantastic, even though the guy who plays the prime minister in the TV show wasn’t there (Lucas played a short and round prime minister instead). The narrative says this was because the actor is too expensive. For this Walliams, playing Sebastian, stripped naked on stage, hid his male genitals and bounced around like a kangaroo saying “I’m a woman”. Apparently this was standard in the Commons bar. Brilliant!

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I thought some of the new characters worked brilliantly. Especially the politician Sir Norman Fry who, in his press conference outside his home, describes the compromising position he has been caught in this time amazingly well :-o And Bubbles was excellent when seeing the bank manager who told her she could spend no more as she was over 150, 000 pounds in debt. She just kept leaping up yelling “Champagne darling!!!”. Before she finally stripped off and tried to repay her debt, as only she could know how!

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There was audience participation for Marjorie Dawes and her fat fighters, where she picked a larger gentleman out from the crowd infront of where I was sat, to be weighed on stage. The perverted holiday rep who arrived in a red plastic car to a background of “Hello Campers” got two audience members up on stage for a game of hide the sausage. Only he ends up getting one of them on the ground, as he thinks he knows where the sausage is! Perverted…yep! Funny…absolutely!

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There are of course too many to mention. But the encore finale sees Dafydd realising that there are many gays in the village and bursting into song in a gay as anything rendition like the village people. I’ve heard people asking for this to be released as a Christmas single…please don’t… it’s good for the show but not in the top 40!

The pure hilarity of Matt Lucas and his huge energy supplies were a joy to watch. Walliams is the calmer, darker actor of the two relying more on underplaying his cards. This is a superb comedy pairing that works, dare I say it, better in the live arena than television. Their acting was fluent and natural to the extreme. When acting as the Hypnotist Lucas was so fluid it really had to been to be believed and in one sketch where Walliams moustache fell off they improvised well and had good banter that the audience connected with.

My usual gripe with The Edinburgh Playhouse is the space the seats have. I’ve seen ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Chicago’ productions here and both times I’ve got bad cramp in my legs, as there was no space for my over 6 foot frame. However the frst few rows of the stalls, including the seat I was sat in, had ample space. So even this did not detract from my huge enjoyment of Little Britain Live!

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