Emotion lost in too fast a pace

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Dinnerladies: Second Helpings - Grand Theatre, Blackpool

THE audience was a bit thin on the ground as Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies was dished up for a second helping at The Grand.

The tale picked up just days where the show left off in May 2009, in the much-loved episode when Bren and Tony finally declare their feelings after eight long years.

But unlike the previous offering which has two neat episodes, some die hard Dinnerladies lovers were irked by a first half which crammed the best bits of a series into an hour-long piece.

A helping which contained a pregnancy scare, an illicit affair between a pensioner and petulant teenager, a one women protest, a New Year’s Eve party, merger threats and even an abandoned baby created a bit of a sketchy plot whirlwind.

But in the fast moving action, the magic of the comedy was diluted, emotion was diminished and some much loved lines were thrown away altogether.

There were strong performances which pulled the show together for the second half. Sue Devaney was a flamboyant, flatulent and gloriously away with the fairies Petula.

A much slimmed down Laura Shepherd faithfully created Bren in Victoria Wood’s mirror image and she was matched by Andrew Dunn’s ever lovable Tony.

The second section saw a return to the cast performing one episode and the gentler pace allowed the script to flow more smoothly.

A TV screen was used to show Bren’s quiz show debut and Petula’s well meaning will, and long time fan or not, you couldn’t help but be sucked in by the happy ending.