The date was 18th June 2023,
It was a comic relief performance and we all assembled at the Shaftesbury theatre in London for a special performance of
Based on the 1993 film starring Robin Williams, which if you thought about it and tried to explain to a friend, they would find it a little weird. Here goes.
A married couple with three children, their marriage fails and the Father is denied access to see his children as he is deemed a little wacky and not a responsible parent. Move on a bit. Mum feels the Children need a Nanny to guide them and so advertises for one. So Dad dresses up like an elderly lady with a Scottish accent and applies for the position and gets the job! Now hold. Stop. You are thinking too much.
This variation produced by brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick and writer/satirist John O’Farrell brings the characters to life and they do this very well for this stage production. The songs are not memorable, but the voice of the lead actor presents lots of fun farce and very silly comedy. If you have young kids then they will love it.
As we take our seats the stage reflects a San Francisco skyline. Miranda Hillard (Laura Tebbutt) wants a divorce from her annoying irresponsible, happy go lucky voice-actor husband Daniel (Gabriel Vick). He feels that their life is great as Miranda looks after the home and children, whilst trying to work on her own career. Daniel gets to spend lots of silly time with his three kids. But a judge in court rules this is not acceptable and he has to grow up and take the responsibility as a Father and as an Adult. Daniel fights hard not to lose access to his three children, so when Miranda advertises for a nanny he hacks into her email makes a few changes about the position and invents the perfect candidate in a ‘no-nonsense’ Scottish granny. So Mrs Doubtfire is born!
With a tartan skirt, knitted jumper and thick latex face and body suit Mrs Doubtfire enters the children’s life. From the opening scene to the end of the show Gabriel, proves himself a star of the show, with topical references at the start to the “Hello Poppits” at the end of the production, Gabriel works so hard, with quick changes upon quick changes brings a brilliant physical and verbal performance. impressions of King Charles and Homer Simpson, and Boris Johnson, amongst others. We as the audience were hooked.
Directed by Jerry Zaks who allows the audience to see the vast number of quick changes, I was very impressed watching Gabriel transform so instantly. Latex has its limitations, but this does not show as technically Gabriel works so hard to make it look effortless.
You can never get enough of Mrs Doubtfire and Miranda’s love interest certainly would like to see the back of her as she is totally negative about the feelings he has for his ex-wife and children. So he tries to destroy any hope of them getting on. When I say you can never get enough of Mrs Doubtfire, in the second half there are lots and lots of them, in a weird dance routine. Did it add anymore to the plot, not sure, but it was rib tickling funny! There are a few other Surprises and that’s what they will stay. You’ll find these out when you see the show.
This West End show is aimed at big kids and little ones alike. It is a couple of hours of escapism, it makes you laugh, slightly teary in places and as a past absent father myself, you can’t help but feel some of the loss and pain that Daniel is feeling. There are some brilliant performances, Some high noted performances with regards the songs and a plot that speeds along at a very fast but controlled pace.
Personally, I thought it was brilliant and the audience on this comic relief performance, felt the same. All these people can’t be wrong surely?
What a how, so please go and enjoy it for what it is. A zany, funny and sometimes touching family musical.
5 stars out of 5 (easily)
Reviewer Mark Bilsby