THEATRE REVIEW: Watch It, Sailor!

REVIEW by Ken Powell

Theatre by the Lake production of WATCH IT,SAILOR! by Philip King and Falkland L Cary directed by Ian Forrest

IT’S Britain, Spring 1955 and Shirley Hornett and Albert Tufnell are trying to get married – for the second time that morning!

After a disastrous attempt the first time around, surely nothing can go wrong for this very northern family? Well, of course, yes it can…

Watch It, Sailor! is the sequel to the popular comedy Sailor, Beware! which was performed by Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake (TBTL) back in 2004.

Don’t worry if, like me, you’ve not seen the first – the play quickly brings you up to speed and stands well independently.

I wondered, initially, if the play would work. How much comic material can you squeeze out of a wedding going catastrophically wrong?

In the hands of TBTL it would seem the answer is: lots.

At first I was gently amused as we were introduced to each of the characters and expected mild titillations for the evening.

Before long, however, I was roaring with laughter – as were the rest of the audience, thankfully so I wasn’t too embarrassing.

It is good family entertainment but just be aware there is the slightest amount of swearing in the second act and a scene of surprising verbal violence which might catch some by surprise, but nothing too excessive.

Teenagers will certainly love it.

There is no doubt in my mind that it was the superb acting from the cast which brought the script alive and rejuvenated jokes which could otherwise risk appearing almost quaint today.

They all did very well but clearly the intended centre piece of the action was the indomitable mother-of-the-bride, Emma Hornett – played to perfection by Heather Phoenix.

I recognised her type from my own northern upbringing in the 70s and scarily her facial mannerisms reminded me of my own mother (*shudders*).

It was perfectly apt however, in my mind, that she was overshadowed by her mouse-of-a-hen-pecked-husband, Henry Hornett, played by Peter Rylands.

The character did not have a huge amount to say (despite his battleaxe of a wife complaining how she ‘can’t get a word in edgeways’) but every line he did have was pure comedy gold and Rylands played each one well beyond perfection.

Between Henry Hornett and his ‘damned ferrets’ the audience was brought to tears at one point and at other times we were all as red in the face as the poor exasperated man who just wanted a bit of peace and quiet (and don’t we all?).

Genuine laugh-out-loud moments abounded. It’s worth going to see the production just for this man alone. You won’t regret it.

Watch It, Sailor! runs until Saturday 5 November and tickets are available at the theatre’s box office.