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Grantham Dramatic Society recreates TV comedy gold with The Good Life

Grantham Dramatic Society was surely always going to be on to a winner with writer Jeremy Sams’ theatrical re-imagining of the hit 1970s BBC TV comedy ‘The Good Life’ – and so it proved.

The GDS stage version brought back many happy memories of what truly was TV comedy gold.

The TV programme ran for four series and made actors Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington household names as characters Tom and Barbara Good, and Margo and Jerry Leadbetter.

Kirk Bowett and Gemma Dove as Tom and Barbara Good. (60791773)
Kirk Bowett and Gemma Dove as Tom and Barbara Good. (60791773)

Experienced actor Kirk Bowett made a superb GDS debut as Tom Good whose 40th birthday midlife crisis convinces him it is time for him and his wife Barbara to quit the rat race and go “self sufficient in Surbiton”.

Longstanding GDS member Gemma Dove was excellent as Tom’s wife Barbara, who is fully supportive of his plan for their independence.

Not so sure of Tom’s idea is his immediate boss at work and next door neighbour Jerry Leadbetter, along with his domineering wife Margo.

Helen Pack and Paul Dexter as Margo and Jerry Leadbetter. (60791769)
Helen Pack and Paul Dexter as Margo and Jerry Leadbetter. (60791769)

Paul Dexter was superb as the down-trodden Jerry who is kept in line by social-climber Margo, who was also played with some aplomb by another GDS regular, Helen Pack.

The other main characters were Tom and Jerry’s boss (and inept golfer) Andrew Ferguson (Sir), played with some gusto by GDS stalwart Gus Sparrow, and his wife Felicity who was portrayed by Laura Wilkinson in an impressive GDS debut.

The opening act of four laid down the foundations for the Goods’ plans to become urban eco-warriors, whilst Act Two proved to be the most hilarious of the lot, ending with the six protagonists drunk as skunks on homemade peapod burgundy wine whilst stoned on accidentally cannabis-laced poppy seed cake!

This reviewer was not quite prepared for the second act’s pyrotechnic finale (when Margo’s electric organ went up in flames), GDS usually reserving the pops, bangs and flashes for the climax of their final act.

With the opening two acts totalling 90 minutes and ending in such a funny and explosive manner, it somehow felt like the show was over.

But two more acts followed the interval, which were somewhat more plaintive in nature by comparison. Act Three revolved around efforts to keep a runt piglet alive and Act Four concerned the demise of Margo’s brief singing career following her Sound of Music opening (and final) night debacle.

All in all, a good time was – as usual – had by all, with memories of The Good Life truly reignited by a stellar production, co-directed by Rosemary Gibson and Nick Elliott.

Smaller parts were played by Izzy Lopez, Jo Toomey, Matthew Brookes, Laura Wilkinson/Paige Perry and Daniele Petruzzo. And not forgetting Geraldine the goat!

The play was produced by Victoria Dexter and Nick Elliott.

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