REVIEW: ‘Corrie!’ The Lyceum - by Peter Kay

Corrie!, touring to the Lyceum, Sheffield, March 7-12 2011 with sheffield actor Daniel Crowder (right)
Corrie!, touring to the Lyceum, Sheffield, March 7-12 2011 with sheffield actor Daniel Crowder (right)

AS A celebration of 50 years of Coronation Street, this is not so much a stroll down memory lane as a whizz along the most famous cobbles in the country.

Characters and storylines fit breathlessly into a two hour romp written with warmth, faithfulness and a wealth of comedic touches by playwright Jonathan Harvey, who worked on more than 100 episodes of The Street.

The affection extends to a clued up audience, and much of the appeal rests on being aware of what is coming next. When Val Barlow picks up her hairdryer, a knowing chuckle runs around the auditorium and the only shock is her’s.

The arrival of Martha’s barge is similarly greeted with a chortle, with the inevitable conclusion of it heading off for Tamworth without our Ken (played superbly with recurring anguish by Simon Chadwick).

And for poor old Gail. “Next time it will be better,” she says, as another romance ends disastrously. Of course, we all know better.

The frenetic nature of the production is underlined by only six actors, one of them Daniel Crowder from Sheffield, playing 50 characters in a flurry of wigs and costume changes.

Neat devices are deployed to cram in as much as possible. Ballet dancers flit around to reflect the tangled web surrounding Tony Gordon, and a Keystones Cop-style movie scene embraces a myriad of more recent plotlines.

With Gaynor Faye (the late Judy Mallett to aficionados) holding everything together as narrator, the shows packs in the drama and with no little humour, just as you would expect from a snapshot of the long-running soap.

From the start, the women who have ruled Corrie over the years - the likes of Ena, Elsie, Bet and Blanche - are calling the shots, and at the end, the circle is completed as Elsie shares her thoughts with Becky. “Chest out, big grin, we’re survivors you and me,” she says.

There’s plenty evidence here of why Coronation Street has survived, and fans drink it all in as though it is a pint of best Newton and Ridley’s.