Blackeyed Theatre’s 60th anniversary tour of Joan Littlewood’s anti-war satire Oh What A Lovely War rolls into Yorkshire

Blackeyed Theatre’s 2024 cast for the 60th anniversary tour of Joan Littlewood’s Oh What A Lovely War. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

BLACKEYED Theatre’s 60th anniversary revival of Joan Littlewood’s epic anti-war musical Oh What A Lovely War plays Harrogate Theatre from Thursday to Saturday.

A cornerstone of modern musical theatre, this exposé of the folly, farce and tragedy of the First World War was conceived and developed by Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop, in Stratford, East London, in 1963, with a book by Theatre Workshop, Charles Chilton, Gerry Raffles and members of the original cast.

The fusion of timeless songs, such as Pack Up Your Troubles and It’s A Long Way To Tipperary,  piercing humour and high jinks offers a satirical account of the First World War as seen through the eyes of the common soldier.

Wildly satirical, visually striking and deeply moving, the show is a humorous but heartbreaking snapshot of life for those caught in the crossfire of conflict, a unanimous voice from the trenches and a timely warning from the theatre of war itself. Now, more than ever, it holds a mirror up to the world and speaks to us all.

The cast comprises Tom Benjamin (Fire Songs, Frozen Light; Rewind, Ephemeral Ensemble); 2023 Rose Bruford graduate Tom Crabtree; Harry Curley (Once, Barn Theatre; Summer In The City, The Gatehouse; Caligari, Underbelly); Alice E Mayer (Frankenstein, Blackeyed Theatre; The Chronicles Of Wild Hollow, Audible; Y Mabinogi, Welsh tour); Chioma Uma (Brief Encounter, New Wolsey and UK tour; Kiss Me Kate, Watermill Theatre) and Euan Wilson (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vienna English Theatre; The Great Gatsby, Immersive London; Stick Man, UK tour).

On tour from last September to May 18, the production is directed by Nicky Allpress, with musical direction by Ellie Verkerk, movement direction by Adam Haigh, orchestration by Tom Neill, set design by Victoria Spearing, costume design Naomi Gibbs and lighting design by Alan Valentine.

“Our concept will explore the idea of war as a circus with an incredibly talented company of actor-musicians,” says Blackeyed Theatre director Nicky Allpress. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

“I’m so thrilled to be directing this unique piece of theatrical history, having followed Blackeyed Theatre and their extraordinary work for many years,” says Allpress. “One of the most exciting things about Oh What a Lovely War is how universal, timeless and ever relevant it is, and testament to the brilliance of the work is how it can bear endless reinterpretation.

“Our concept will explore the idea of war as a circus, with an incredibly talented company of actor-musicians bringing Joan Littlewood’s ground-breaking classic to life with music, comedy, and stories.”

BlackeyedTheatre artistic director Adrian McDougall adds: “I’m so proud of the entire team who have put together this incredible show. The experience this group of artists creates for our audiences night after night is nothing short of astonishing, and the response to the production bears that out.

“It’s also worth mentioning that our entire 2024 cast graduated from the same college, Rose Bruford, which is a real testament to the quality of its training! 2024 marks our 20th birthday, and I’m very proud not only that we continue to create shows of the quality of Oh What A Lovely War but that we do so sustainably with little or no funding and against an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape. I like to think Joan Littlewood would approve.”

Blackeyed Theatre in Oh What A Lovely War, Harrogate Theatre, February 22 to 24, 7.30pm plus 2pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01423 502116 or

Further Yorkshire dates: Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, March 6 to 9 March, 7.30pm plus 1.30pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees, 01723 370541 or; Hull Truck Theatre, March 19 to 23, 7.30pm plus 2pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees, 01482 323638 or; Leeds Playhouse, March 26 and 27, 7.45pm, 0113 213 7700 or; Theatre Royal, Wakefield, April 30 and May 1, 7.30pm, 01924 211311 or

What her grandad did in the Great War, now singer Marlena Kellie is re-creating in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Oh! What A Lovely War

Marlena Kellie, left, going through her Oh! What A Lovely War solo with Pick Me Up Theatre musical director Natalie Walker

ART is imitating life for singer Marlena Kellie, who has joined Pick Me Up Theatre’s 60th anniversary production of Oh! What A Lovely War.

From March 31 to April 8, at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, she will play her part in re-creating the shows her grandfather would have performed in during the First World War, singing the lead on Now You’ve Got Yer Khaki On.

Devised and presented by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in 1963 before being turned into a film by Richard Attenborough in 1969, Oh! What A Lovely War is a satirical chronicle of the Great War, told through songs and documents in the form of a seaside Pierrot entertainment.

This photograph of a First World War entertainment troupe shows Marlena Kellie’s grandfather, Richard Palmer, centre, with his first wife, Marion Williams, next to him in the nurse’s uniform

While rehearsing, Leeds jazz singer and actress Marlena realised the costumes and songs from Robert Readman’s production were reminiscent of her own family’s acting career.

“My grandfather, his first wife and my grandmother were all in entertainment troupes during the First World War,” she says. “I found some wonderful old photos of them all – and they are the real-life versions of what we’re doing on stage.”

Marlena’s Romany grandfather, Richard Palmer, had an act he would perform at travelling fairs and later in the music hall, and he was part of Fred Karno’s circus too.

This troupe of Pierrots – dressed exactly as the original cast of Oh! What A Lovely War would have been – features Marlena’s grandfather, Richard Palmer, and her grandmother, Greta Palmer

Marlena’s parents, Eddie Palmer and Shirley Kellie, travelled the country with their own club act, settling down when Marlena was three years old.

Carrying on the Romany tradition, Marlena can sometimes be found telling fortunes but concentrates on club singing and acting. She was one of the trifle-bearing women seen charging joyfully along in last winter’s Argos Christmas advert!

“I used to be embarrassed by my ‘otherness’ in school, but now I embrace it,” she says. “I live with two fabulous drag queens and a lovely little dog called Whoopie.

Marlena Kellie’s parents, Eddie Palmer and Shirley Kellie, who toured their cabaret act for many years

“I can’t quite believe how life has led me to Oh! What A Lovely War but it feels like it was meant to be.  My parents are sadly no longer with me, but I very much feel I am carrying on the family tradition.”

Meanwhile, York actor Ian Giles, who will play the Master of Ceremonies in Pick Me Up’s production, has found an image of his paternal grandfather, Sergeant William Giles, from Christmas Day 1915.

It shows his grandfather with men of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry at Fleurbaix, near Béthune, northern France. “He is the sergeant standing upright pretty well at the
centre of the photograph,” says Ian.

“I can’t quite believe how life has led me to Oh! What A Lovely War but it feels like it was meant to be,” says singer and actress Marlena Kellie

” It was found in my nan’s purse when she died in the mid-1970s. She had carried it with her everywhere. Gramp survived the war and lived well into his eighties.”

In a moving scene in the play, British and German soldiers sing carols and have a drink together over the barbed wire of No Man’s Land.

Ian, by the way, directed Oh! What A Lovely War in September 1972 in Newcastle at what is now the home of Northern Stage. “The late Freddie Jones, who was rehearsing Peer Gynt at the time, used to sneak in every night to watch my ending, which he found profoundly moving,” he recalls.

Pick Me Up Theatre in Oh! What A Lovely War, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, March 31 to April 8, 7.30pm, except April 2 and 3; 2.30pm, April 1, 2 and 8. Box office:

York actor Ian Giles’s paternal grandfather, Sergeant William Giles, with men of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry on Christmas Day 1915 at Fleurbaix, near Béthune

Did you know?

MARLENA Kellie played Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar in her debut for York Musical Theatre Company at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, in November 2019.

Here’s Jonny Holbek, adding directing and sketch comedy to his theatrical portfolio

Jonny Holbek: Actor, director, sketch comedy performer

YORK actor Jonny Holbek is stepping out of the ranks to co-direct Pick Me Up Theatre’s 60th anniversary production of Oh! What A Lovely War.

Last seen on stage as the emotionally damaged Tobias Ragg in York Light Opera Company’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street at York Theatre Royal in February and early March, he is working alongside artistic director Robert Readman at Theatre@41, Monkgate.

“I’ve not done much directing before,” he says. “I directed a concert/show for York Light, A Night With The Light, at Friargate Theatre in June last year and also did some assistant directing for Nik Briggs for York Stage Musicals’ The Flint Street Nativity in 2019.

“This time it’s in between assistant directing and directing. It’s co-directing, which is the toughest form of directing in terms of presenting a coherent production.”

How has the partnership worked out with Robert? “I missed some of the early rehearsals because of doing Sweeney Todd, with Robert doing a lot of the early blocking. Then we worked on scenes in separate rooms, and for the last two weeks it’s been entirely me, while Robert has been busy building the set.”

The collaboration emerged through Jonny expressing an interest in co-directing. “Robert suggested working on Oh! What A Lovely War, a piece that I didn’t know, but I know very well now,” he says.

“I’m really glad I said yes. What a great show it is. I’m so pleased to get to know its full cycle, its humour and its darkness.”

Devised and premiered by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London in 1963 before being turned into a film by Richard Attenborough in 1969, this satirical chronicle of the Great War is told through music-hall songs, hymns with rewritten verses and vignettes in the form of a seaside Pierrot entertainment, accompanied by statistics of the growing body count on the war front.

Jonny Holbek, fourth from right, leading the singing in God, That’s Good! in York Light Opera Company’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street at York Theatre Royal

“The first thing to say is that so many people died absolutely needlessly, and this show gives us the chance to explore that situation and find the absurd comedy in it, or in this case the careful juxtaposition of comedy and the horror of war,” says Jonny.

“One minute, the audience will be laughing at something; the next, they will be bulldozed by a harrowing image, a shocking fact – and when you make them feel an emotion, they feel it even more.

“The songs have a powerful impact too. A lot of the audience will know most of them, certainly the music-hall ones that provide the sense of pride and excitement the soldiers would have been feeling at first. That gives the show its energy, and then the other side of warfare comes through: the wistful songs that become gut-wrenchingly haunting.”

Contrasting directing with acting, Jonny says: “Firstly, they’re obviously very different disciplines, although they do overlap. In terms of performance, in both roles, you look for the comedy, the drama, and the nuances in the piece.

“Directing, I find it more rewarding helping others to find and highlight the various levels of light and dark to keep the audience interested; whether a scene needs to be reined in or played bolder.

“You also have that tricky balancing act of trying to encourage the best performances, without causing stress or knocking morale.”

Jonny’s daytimes find him working for the Rural Payments Agency, part of DEFRA. By night, he is a regular on the York stage, adding another string to his bow with The Dead Ducks, the sketch comedy troupe he has joined, made up mostly of University of York post-grads, such as Tommy Harris and Eloise Ward.

“We do little shows every few weeks,” he says. “The last one was in a big lecture room at the university, and we’ve also played The Den at Micklegate Social. This summer we’ll be playing the Edinburgh Fringe at one of ‘theSpace’ venues. No show title yet.”

Summing up his love of performing (and directing too), Jonny says: “It’s the camaraderie you build, putting together something in such a tight time frame. I haven’t found anything like it outside the arts. That buzz.”

More Things To Do in York and beyond for those about to rock…or put Spring in their step. Hutch’s List No. 13, from The Press

The return of RSJ: York metalcore band reconvene for one -off reunion at The Crescent

HEAVYWEIGHT comedy, hardcore rock, reshaped Shakespeare and a ‘roarsome’ children’s show fire up Charles Hutchinson’s enthusiasm for the week ahead.

Resurrection of the week: Mr H presents RSJ, The Crescent, York, tonight, doors 7pm

YORK’S mightiest metalcore groovers reunite for a special one-off show, fronted once more by Dan Cook, now of Raging Speedhorn. “RSJ were/are one of the most intense groove and hardcore noise monsters, not just in York but across the UK. It’s no wonder they stormed stages at Bloodstock, Knebworth and Hellfire,” says promoter Tim Hornsby.

RSJ’s spine-rattling polyrhythms and huge guitars will be preceded by the return of much-missed melodic hardcore band Beyond All Reason and Disinfo. Box office:

Justin Moorhouse: Plenty on his plate to get off his chest at Burning Duck Comedy Club night

Lancastrian in York of the week: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Justin Moorhouse, Stretch And Think, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

MANCHESTER stand-up, radio presenter and actor Justin Moorhouse is back, “still funny, yet middle aged” (he’s 52), in a new suit for a new show that may contain thoughts on yoga, growing older, Madonna, shoplifters, Labradoodles, cyclists, the menopause, running, hating football fans but loving football…

…not drinking, funerals, tapas, Captain Tom, Droylsden, the environment, self-improvement,  horses, the odd advantages of fundamental religions, the gym and shop-door etiquette. “Come, it’ll be fun,” he says. Box office:

Royal Shakespeare Company: Linking up with York Theatre Royal for York Associate Schools Playmaking Festival

School project of the week: York Theatre Royal and Royal Shakespeare Company present York Associate Schools Playmaking Festival of The Merchant Of Venice, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday and Wednesday, 6.30pm

SHAKESPEARE’S play is told in six sections by six schools each night, using choral and ensemble approaches to relate Shylock’s story through multiple bodies and voices in a celebration of the joy of performance that explores themes of prejudice, friendship and self-interest.

Participating schools on March 28: Acomb Primary, Applefields School, Millthorpe School, Vale of York Academy, St Barnabas CE Primary; March 29, Clifton Green Primary, Poppleton Road Primary, Brayton Academy, Scarcroft Primary, Fulford School and Joseph Rowntree School. Box office: 01904 623568 or

Big in the Eighties: Andy Cryer in The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less) at the SJT, Scarborough. Picture: Patch Dolan

Shake-up of the week: The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, Thursday to April 15

ORIGINALLY by Shakespeare, now messed around with by Elizabeth Godber and Nick Lane, SJT director Paul Robinson’s vibrant new staging of the Bard’s most bonkers farce arrives  in a co-production with Prescot’s Shakespeare North Playhouse.  

The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less) is brought to life in neon-lit 1980s’ Scarborough. Cue mistaken identities, theatrical chaos and belting musical numbers from the era of big phones and even bigger shoulder pads. Box office: 01723 370541 or SEE REVIEW BELOW.

The poster artwork for Pick Me Up Theatre Company’s Oh! What A Lovely War

Revival of the week: Pick Me Up Theatre in Oh! What A Lovely War, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, March 31 to April 8, 7.30pm, except April 2 and 3; 2.30pm, April 1, 2 and 8

PICK Me Up Theatre present a 60th anniversary production of Oh! What A Lovely War, a satirical chronicle of the First World War, told through songs and documents in the form of a seaside Pierrot entertainment.

Devised and presented by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in 1963 before being turned into a film by Richard Attenborough in 1969, now it is in the hands of Robert Readman’s York cast. Box office:

Feeling hot, hot, hot: Zog is on fire in Freckle Productions’ show at York Theatre Royal

Children’s show of the week: Freckle Productions in Zog, York Theatre Royal, March 31, 4.30pm;  April 1,  10.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm 

JULIA Donaldson and Alex Scheffler’s Zog takes to the stage in a magical Freckle Productions show most suitable for age three upwards, although all ages are welcome. Zog is trying very hard to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school, perhaps too hard, as he bumps, burns and roars his way through Years 1, 2 and 3.

Luckily plucky Princess Pearl patches him up, ready to face his biggest challenge yet: a duel with knight Sir Gadabout the Great. Emma Kilbey directs; Joe Stilgoe provides the songs. Box office: 01904 623568 or

Roy “Chubby” Brown: Bluer than Stilton at York Barbican

Still in rude health: Roy “Chubby” Brown, York Barbican, March 31, 7.30pm

ROY “Chubby” Brown – real name Royston Vasey, from Grangetown, Middlesbrough – is on the road again at 78, 50 years into a blue comedy career that carries the warning: “If easily offended, please stay away”.

Chubby may not be everyone’s cup of tea but a lot of people like tea, he says. Thirty DVDs in 30 years, thousands of shows worldwide and four books testify to the abiding popularity of a profane joker full of frank social commentary, forthright songs and contempt for political correctness. Box office:

In the doghouse: Ferocious Dog attack songs with bite at York Barbican

Where there is despair, may they bring Hope: Ferocious Dog, supported by Mark Chadwick, York Barbican, April 1, 7pm

FEROCIOUS Dog, a Left-leaning six-piece from Warsop, Nottinghamshire, slot somewhere between Levellers and early Billy Bragg in their vibrant vein of Celtic folk-infused punk rock.

Fifth album Hope came out in 2021, charting at number 31 in the Official UK Charts. Special guest will be Levellers’ leader Mark Chadwick, joined by Ferocious Dog violinist Dan Booth for part of his 7pm set. Box office:

Artwork by Cuban painter Leo Morey, one of the new artists taking part in York Open Studios 2023

Early sighter of the week: York Open Studios 2023 Taster Exhibition, The Hospitium, Museum Gardens, York, April 1 and 2, 10am to 4pm

FOR the first time since 2019, York Open Studios will be launched with a taster exhibition next weekend featuring examples of work by most of the 150 artists and makers set to open their studio doors on April 15, 16, 22 and 23.

This free preview gives a flavour of what will be coming up at more than 100 venues next month.  Full details of this year’s artists and locations can be found at Look out for booklets around York.

In Focus: Luke Wright, The Remains Of Logan Dankworth, Selby Town Hall, March 30, 8pm

In the Wright place: Luke Wright making his political point in The Remains Of Logan Dankworth

PERFORMANCE poet Luke Wright returns to Selby Town Hall on Thursday to peform his 2022 Edinburgh Fringe political verse play The Remains Of Logan Dankworth.

Columnist and Twitter warrior Logan Dankworth grew up romanticising the political turmoil of the 1980s. Now, as the EU Referendum looms, he is determined to be in the fray of the biggest political battle for years.

Meanwhile, Logan’s wife Megan wants to leave London to better raise their daughter. As tensions rise at home and across the nation, something is set to be lost forever.

The third in Wright’s trilogy of lyrically rich plays looks at trust, fatherhood and family in the age of Brexit. Winner of The Saboteur Award for Best Show, it picked up four and five-star from the Telegraph, the Scotsman, the Stage and British Theatre Guide.

Wright was a founder member of poetry collective Aisle16, who shook up the spoken-word scene in the 2000s, helping to kick-start a British renaissance of the form. He is the regular tour support for John Cooper Clarke and often hosts shows for The Libertines.

He is a frequent guest on BBC Radio 4, a Fringe First winner for writing and a Stage Award winner for performance.

“Luke Wright is an astonishing performer and one of the best political writers around today, whose wonderful, lyrical writing translates really well to full-length plays,” says Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones.

“I was lucky enough to see The Remains Of Logan Dankworth in Edinburgh last summer and made sure I booked it for Selby Town Hall straight away. It’s a brilliantly told story by a powerhouse poet.”

For tickets: ring 01757 708449 or book online at

REVIEW: The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough *****

David Kirkbride’s Antipholus of Scarborough in a headlock with Claire Eden’s Big Sandra in The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less). All pictures: Patch Dolan

Stephen Joseph Theatre and Shakespeare North Playhouse in The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until April 15, 7.30pm plus 1.30pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees. Box office: 01723 370541 or

THIS Comedy Of Errors gets everything right. Not more or less. Just right. Full stop.

Shakespeare’s “most bonkers farce” has been entrusted to Nick Lane, madly inventive writer of the SJT’s equally bonkers pantomime, and Elizabeth Godber, a blossoming writing talent from the East Yorkshire theatrical family.  

How does this new partnership work? In a nutshell, Lane has penned the men’s lines, Godber, the female ones, before the duo moulded the finale in tandem.

SJT artistic director Paul Robinson, meanwhile, selected a criminally good play list of Eighties’ guilty pleasures, from Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again to Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl, Nik Kershaw’s Wouldn’t It Be Good to Toni Basil’s Mickey, Cher’s Just Like Jesse James to Kenny Loggins’ Footloose, to be sung in character or as an ensemble with Northern Chorus oomph.

Oh, Dromio, Dromio, wherefore art thy other Dromio? Oliver Mawdsley’s Dromio of Prescot in the SJT’s The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less)

Aptly, the opening number is an ensemble rendition of Dream Academy’s one-hit wonder, Life In A Northern Town, that town being 1980s’ Scarborough, just as Lane always roots his pantomimes in the Yorkshire resort.

From an original idea by Robinson, Lane and Godber’s reinvention of Shakespeare’s comedy is not too far-fetched but far enough removed to take on its own personality and, frankly, be much, much funnier as a result. To the point where one woman in the front row was in the grip of a fit of giggles. Yes, that joyous.

For Ephesus, a city on the Ionian coast with a busy port, read Scarborough, a town on the Yorkshire coast with a fishing harbour, although all the fish and chip cafés were shut without explanation on the evening of the press night. Was something fishy going on?

Ephesus was governed by Duke Solinus; Scarborough is run by Andy Cryer’s oleaginous Solinus. Still the merry-go-round action is spun around outdoor public spaces on Jessica Curtis’s set, where protagonists bump into each other like dodgem cars. Just as Syracusans were subject to strict rules in the original play, now Lancastrians are given the Yorkshire cold shoulder in a new war of the roses, besmirched Eccles Cakes et al.

In with a shout: Claire Eden, right, meets a Scarborough greeting from Alyce Liburd, left, Valerie Antwi and Ida Regan in The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less)

So begins a tale of two rival states and two sets of mismatched twins (Antipholus and Dromio times two) on one nutty day at the seaside. Cue a mishmash of mistaken identities, mayhem agogo, and merriment to the manic max, conducted at an ever more frenetic lick.

It worked wonders for Richard Bean in One Man, Two Guvnors, his Swinging Sixties’ revamp of Goldoni’s 1743 Italian Commedia dell’arte farce, The Servant Of Two Masters, setting his gloriously chaotic caper, as chance would have it, in another English resort: Brighton. Now The Comedy Of Errors evens up the mathematical equation for two plus two to equal comedy nirvana from so much division.

One ‘guvnor’, Lancastrian comic actor Antipholus of Prescot (Peter Kirkbride) crosses the Pennine divide to perform his one-man show. Trouble is, everyone has booked tickets for the talent show across the bay, starring t’other ‘guvnor’, the twin brother he has never met, Antipholus of Scarborough (David Kirkbride, different first name, but same actor, giving licence for amusing parallel biographies in the programme).

The two ‘servants’ of the piece, Dromio of Prescot and Scarborough respectively (Oliver/Zach  Mawdsley), are equally unaware of the other’s presence, compounding a trail of confusion rooted in Scarborough’s Antipholus owing money everywhere but still promising his wife a gold chain. He needs to win the contest to appease Scarborough’s more unsavoury sorts.

Comedy gold: Andy Cryer in The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less)

Kirkbride takes the acting honours in his hyperactive double act with himself, Mawdsley a deux  is a picture of perplexity; Cryer, in his 40th year of SJT productions, is comedy gold as ever in chameleon roles; likewise, Claire Eden fills the stage with diverse riotous, no-nonsense character, whether from Lancashire or Yorkshire.

Valerie Antwi, Alyce Liburd and Ida Regan, each required to put up with the maelstrom of male malarkey, add so much to the comedic commotion, on song throughout too.

Under Robinson’s zesty, witty direction, everything in Scarborough must be all at sea and yet somehow emerge as comic plain sailing, breaking down theatre’s fourth wall to forewarn with a knowing wink of the need to suspend disbelief when seeing how the company will play the two sets of twins once, spoiler alert, they finally meet.

Who knew shaken-and-stirred Shakespeare could be this much fun, enjoying life in the fast Lane with Godber gumption galore too. Add the Yorkshire-Lancashire spat and those Eighties’ pop bangers, Wayne Parsons’ choreography and the fabulous costumes, and this is the best Bard comedy bar none since Joyce Branagh’s Jazz Age Twelfth Night for Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in York in 2019.

When The Comedy Of Errors meets the 1980s, the laughs are even bigger than the shoulder pads. A case of more, not less.

Review by Charles Hutchinson