Spooky Goings On 2
Sunday 11th March 2007

Reviewed by Freddie Wilkinson

To say that the Chuckles Brothers are an acquired taste is a bit of an understatement, just ask my Girlfriend! But for me they are the last of a rare breed that have almost single handedly kept alive the dieing art and routines of the music hall performer.

For those that don’t know them (where have you been?) they are a comedy double act from Rotherham, who after years of graft in northern clubs and theatres finally made it big with their own TV show on the BBC dressed as giant dogs, then later with their own series, minus the dog outfits that is still running today 15 years on.

I think the reason I like them so much may have something to do with the fact that I was brought up on a diet of Laurel & Hardy, Bob Hope, Abbott & Costello, Will Hay, Martin & Lewis, Norman Wisdom and George Formby. Add to that a worrying obsession for magic and you can probably guess I was a popular lad at School during the 1980’s!!!

Based on this you can imagine how happy I was to read on the pages of MagicWeek that their latest venture Spooky Goings On 2 would be appearing at the Newark Palace Theatre, Nott’s. Not only that but Safire the well known illusion act would once again be joining them for the 85 date tour after a year away with the Rent-A-Ghost show.

Come the day of the show and following a much needed £Million face lift, the Palace Theatre was as bright and sunny inside as it was outside on this Spring afternoon in the sleepy town of Newark. Most of the money has been spent on a lick of paint, new seating and a sound system; it certainly made a big difference as the near capacity crowd in the 650 seat venue would vouch for.

The show, the first of two matinees that day followed the same pantomime plot as their previous efforts - Spooky Goings On 1, Star Doors, Doctor What & The Garlic’s and Pirates Of The River Rother. The story this time, not that it’s important was that Paul and Barry had decided to go and visit their long lost relative who just happened to live in a haunted hotel – Cue ghostly happenings by the bucket load, and lots of “Oh Dear Oh Dear” “Ellooooo” “Gert Out Of it” and the all important “Too Me – Too You”.

Safire a.k.a Stuart & Jayne Loughland played various key roles throughout the show be it acting, singing or operating the main puppet character. But it’s their Illusion act that they are best known for and it was easy to see why as they hit the stage and instantly won over an audience under sometimes difficult circumstances. Illusions performed in the first half were a mini cube-zag and a lovely new version of the head and body twister that I believe is their own design, I know it completely floored me watching it. Then in the second half a beside your self type sawing in half and their trade mark crystal sub trunk.

As ever they went down a storm but I did wonder why they had to come on cold like they did? It felt as if they were thrown on stage to work front cloth just so they could change the scenery behind. I’m guessing this was the case but surely it wouldn’t have been hard with just a few lines of dialogue to explain their sudden appearance to the young audience? Bet it would make life a lot easier for Safire too. One for the Director to think about I’m sure.

To end the first half came a scene that fell a little flat with the audience, involving the Chuckle Brothers and guests at a banquet. No matter how many custard pies were thrown it just couldn’t save the sketch, which was a shame as this lead into the 20 minute interval and you could feel it had left everyone a little un-easy.

Not to worry though as the second half opened with a bang in the form of the Magic Light Puppet Company, Stuart & Jayne from Safire once again working their socks off with a multitude of UV characters all tailored to the spooky show. Dracula driving his coffin and an 8 foot Frankenstein singing a Tom Jones hit has to be seen!

Then followed another 30 minutes of tried and tested routines from the Brothers, some old, some new, but all re jigged to make them relevant to their young audience.

Did you know that the Chuckle Brothers tour is one of the biggest sellers in the UK? The reason being that it is always changing for a new audience yet they always manage to stick to what they know best and manage to give the punters what they want.

Back to the show and again the end number in which the whole cast join the Chuckle Brothers for a big sing-a-long fell a bit flat, mainly because you couldn’t really join in. (The kids that is not the adults, honest!) In the past they have ended with Amarillo, Blow Your Whistle etc but this time it was a sort of Stomp/Blue Man Group drumming affair? A strange choice?

And so ended a fun afternoon that minor faults aside was still a great family show and I would whole heartedly recommend it especially if you love magic, pantomime, comedy and slapstick.

The show tours until June 16th and full details can be found on Magicweek or you can visit Safire’s website – www.magic-of-safire.co.uk.

Well worth a trip to see, even my Girlfriend Celia who hates the Chuckle Brothers on TV came home saying how much she had enjoyed it..

© Freddie Wilkinson, March 2007




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