Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Only Fools and Horses The Musical | Review

Show rating: ★★★
Accessibility rating: ★★

I like to think that as a theatre goer I'm open to seeing anything, minus a few exceptions, but there are definitely shows that sit pretty far out from what I usually find myself gravitating towards. The shows I find myself returning to again and again tend to be pretty similar, usually quite modern and with some kind of dance element so, when my Mum wanted to see Only Fools and Horses the musical I was a little hesitant! West End Live came about though and their performance really had me hooked and wanting to see a little more. I grew up with the TV show constantly on in the background and my Mum adores the show so, off we went to the Theatre Royal Haymarket to see what it was all about.


I'll start off by saying that this is a definitely a production for fans of the show, you really do have to know the show quite well to be able to follow it all. They rely on the assumption that the audience already knows the characters and some of the iconic moments quite heavily so I think a regular theatre goer who just fancies checking it out might struggle a little. My Mum knew every single moment and I knew enough to get by, and it was clear from the audience reactions that most people there knew the show inside out. As such, whilst this is a musical, it's definitely not one that relies on it's music. It felt at times that some of the songs were definite filler songs, props to move things along to the moments that the audience are there for. There were a few standouts though, such as The Girl and the music I already knew such as Only Fools and Horses/Hooky Street and Margate were staged and performed incredibly well. Also, any songs that featured the dating agent/theatre announcer played by Oscar Conlon-Morrey were hilarious moments for me and really picked up the show when things had started to plateaued a little.

I really loved the staging of this production, they used their revolve in such a clever way to transition between each set, with most of the show being across a few key locations such as the market, the pub and Del Boy's home. Any moment the car was brought on stage seemed to be a highlight for a lot of people and it really showcased that this show knows it's audience and I really think that has been the key to their success. This isn't a show for musical theatre fans necessarily and that's okay because it seems there are more than enough Only Fools fans to fill the theatre night after night. I have to say, I think I would have been more disappointed had I paid more for our tickets than we do, most of the seats seem to cost more than £70 and I don't think I would have come away quite as impressed had we paid that.


Overall though, the show was a lot of fun and I'm really glad I branched out and saw something a little different! The use of the stage, the iconic moments and a few special moments made for a great theatre trip, sometimes all you want is just to watch something fun and not too deep for a few hours and this ticks that box perfectly.

As for the access, if you read my Heathers review last year you'll know that my experiences with the Theatre Royal Haymarket really haven't been great and I have to say I was really looking forward to them redeeming themselves, but it was not to be. The extent of the help of the staff started and finished with them letting us in the theatre and then showing us where the accessible toilet is. During this time the member of staff directed absolutely everything they were saying to my Mum, even when I was the one responding. I have never felt so small as when they were looking straight over my shoulder, as though I wasn't there. As was the case last time I was then left to struggle alone with the heavy double doors that led to the accessible toilet. Without my Mum having been there with me I've no idea how I would have bought a programme either and there was no offer of staff asking if they could get me a drink or if I wanted any merch. I was truly reminded of why I haven't rushed back to this theatre, I am left disappointed every time.


The wheelchair spaces in this theatre are at the back of stalls, with the overhang of the dress circle obstructing the top half of the stage/set. I missed a few things during Heathers last year because of it and missed even more with this show, with some of the more sweet moments happening up on the top part of the set, there were times where people were laughing and I had no idea what they were laughing at. The seat doesn't feel too far away from the stage but the restricted view was definitely an issue at times. The accessible toilet is still tiny and try as I did, I still cannot turn around in it so it's a difficult reverse out to make my way back to my seat. Wheelchair users can only access the auditorium so cannot access the box office, bars or merchandise.

Overall I'm glad I went along to see what this show was all about, and my Mum thoroughly enjoyed it! If you're a fan of the show then I think this musical is the one for you, it delivers on the iconic moments perfectly and the characters are brought to life in an authentic way. It was a fun show to see, it's just a shame that once again TRH let me down when it came to the access!

Only Fools and Horses the musical is booking until April 25th 2020, with Paul Whitehouse returning to the role of Grandad from January 2020.
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