The Way Old Friends Do ★★★★ Park Theatre | Mar 15 - Apr 15, 2023

This show has a hilarious premise and some great one-liners. Two old friends who've drifted apart meet again and decide to form an ABBA tribute band. The hook is that they will play the female parts and the men will be played by two very different women. The laughs come easily as we see the situation develop and enjoy the idea of this wonderfully weird tribute band. However, the first act is taken up with the establishment of the premise and the creation of the characters, and it ends with us not really knowing where we are going. In contrast, the second act is crammed with a plot that is an amusing take on All About Eve and which again results in the friends being estranged. While both acts are great fun, the play's construction seems awkward. It might have been stronger if the plot dilemma had been introduced in Act I. Putting that issue aside however, all of the cast create delightfully eccentric characters who thoroughly engage the audience. James Bradshaw is outstanding as the waspish Edward and he plays off well against Ian Hallard's Peter, who has taken a long time both to come to terms with his sexuality and to be open about it. Rose Shalloo is very amusing as the untalented Jodie who fails to get the part of a teabag in a commercial, and Sara Crowe is perfection as the obtuse Mrs Campbell. Andrew Horton does a nice turn as the scheming Christian, even though he doesn't get many of the good lines. Ian Hallard has written a very funny work which includes more ABBA lore than anyone should know and has some terrific quips. It all adds up to an amusing night that not only celebrates the boys' favourite group but also affirms the importance of forgiveness and friendship.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Darren Bell.

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