Waiting For God
Grand Theatre, Blackpool
When the audience is laughing less than a minute into a show, you know you’re in for a good night.
There’s a steady stream of one liners from start to finish in Michael Aitkens’ new stage production of his television series, Waiting for God.
Aside from being set in the present day with topical references to silver surfers negotiating Google and Brexit, the adaptation doesn’t stray far from the original 1990s BBC sitcom.
With the same characters and story line, it’s like a neat recap of the five series seen on the small screen.
Set in Bayview Retirement Village, we follow troublesome residents Diana Trent and Tom Ballard, who lament the “plastic sheet club”.
Diana, a former war photographer, is the resident battle-axe who sees herself as a “clapped out old wreck” until loveable Tom Ballard moves into the adjoining apartment.
As their friendship grows and their adventures get more wild by the day (watch out for the missing knickers), they prove they’re not ready for the “final barby” just yet.
Cantankerous Diana is played superbly by Nichola McAuliffe, who delivers hilarious one liners with impeccable timing and shows vulnerability in the more poignant scenes.
Jeffrey Holland, as ex-accountant Tom, gives a cracking performance (which is by no means a reference to his cheeky hospital gown scene).
Comedy from Tom’s cuckolded son Geoffrey Ballard (David Benson) goes down a treat while Samuel Collins and Emily Pithon are convincing but a little farcical in the second act as slimy manager Harvey Baines and soppy Jane Edwards.
Tom and Diana’s patios make for a simple yet effective set with swift changes to allow for visits to the doctor’s, hospital and even a church.
The story line may be predictable, but the dialogue is slick and the laughter comes thick and fast.
Whether or not you have seen the original series, Waiting for God gives a night of stage entertainment at its best.