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Review of You Can Always Hand Them Back at Circa

Review of You Can Always Hand Them Back at Circa

Two old treasures, Roger Hall and Peter Skellern, teamed up to write You Can Always Hand Them Back, an entertainment about the autumn of their lives and Circa have put it on for the autumn of the year. They are both a bit retro Skellern and Hall and all the more lovable for that. On stage there are two more treasures, George Henare and Lynda Milligan, who have the essential inspired support of talented Tom McLeod described in the programme as “on piano” but actually much more than that. Tom McLeod is actor, singer, conductor, chorus, and narrator.

This is not so much a play as a themed set of songs linked by some corny clichéd jokes, and the huge evocative photographs thrown onto the walls of the living room set. And some of these photos are vastly superior to any you would find in the family album.

It is a tasteful set with big mauve-lit walls a dark greyish mauve sofa and a gleaming black grand piano. It goes well with grandma Kath and grandpa Maurice who populate it through its various iterations. They are not a couple of doddery oldies but a modern, lively, healthy couple of gold-carders in the new prime of life.

The three of them, don’t forget Tom at the piano, sing the catchy, charming Skellern songs with gusto, good intonation, clear enunciation and secure musicality. The two golden oldies sing dance and strut their stuff and the four grandchildren they gradually collect remain off stage except for the photographs and mimed cuddles, coochy-cooing and some distant crying.

There is a theme running through the songs about the unpleasantnesses of growing old, for example the weak bladder tango and the deafness duet. Kath does an elderly sheila’s rather desperate raunchy torch song, and Maurice having trouble with the remote sings about entering his age of bewilderment.

This show makes a comfortable evening’s entertainment. There is nothing new but it is a cosily recognisable and amusing piece and the piano playing is a delight.


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