Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

What Else Is New?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

What Else Is New?

Article excerpt

Byline: BRUCE DESSAU;FIONA MOUNTFORD;NICK CURTIS

COMEDY

Pam Ayres

Bloomsbury Theatre *** (3/5)

CONCLUSIVE proof that if you stick around long enough you'll come back into fashion. Pam Ayres might not have attained Arctic Monkey status, but with a refreshingly funny Radio 4 series, appearances on Countdown and this packed house, her stock probably hasn't been this high since 1976.

Thirty years after Opportunity Knocks, her whimsical poetry is as endearingly entertaining as ever. Getting her hit out of the way early, she revealed that Oh, I Wish I'd Looked After My Teeth, bemoaning the perils of fillings and dentures, was written when she had all her choppers, so she clearly has a fertile imagination.

Slippage between selfimage and reality was a rich vein of humour. The highlight was her fantasy of eloping with Bruce Springsteen: "He's clapped in every State, I'm clapped by half past eight."

Her mature audience sympathised. Ayres doesn't get hecklers, she gets rustlers - laughter was punctuated by the unwrapping of Werther's Originals.

Unfortunately, she stuck around a little too long at the Bloomsbury. A windy anecdote about her dogs tipped the gig over the twohour mark and lost her a star. More hip replacement than hip, perhaps, but an enterprising producer could surely squeeze a London run out of the people's poet. Bruce Dessau

THEATRE Hilda

Hampstead * (1/5)

YOU HAVE to wonder what criteria Anthony Clark, Hampstead's artistic director, uses to pick his theatre's plays. Perhaps he has an Auntie Hilda, as there seems to be no more rational explanation for staging this woefully misfiring piece.

The bizarre set consists of a large glasshouse, and one fears that it can only be a matter of time before someone starts throwing stones.

Franco-Senegalese writer Marie Ndiaye was obviously aiming for a taut psychological mood-piece, a study of obsession and compliance between a mistress and her domestic help. What she has come up with is the endless whinge-fest of an utterly unhinged woman.

Mrs Lemarchand (Stella Gonet) demands that Hilda, the wife of handyman Franck (Bo Poraj), come and work for her. …

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