Our heroine Mrs. Gerrish is a 50’s seaside landlady who decides to open her guesthouse over the Christmas period, with an action packed programme of events to keep her guests happy. Set in Weston-super-Mare, The Lancastrian Lord Mayor of the town decides he wants to make Weston into a mini Blackpool, and plans a fabulous switch on of some very grand Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. Will it all go to plan? From early on in the show, the audience can see that this is looking increasingly unlikely.
I’m not sure that I was the target audience; in the café beforehand I realised that most people there were 20-30 years older than me, and I’m well into middle age. This may well be related to the shows obvious roots in 70’s style humour, with double entendres and slightly risqué lines being plentiful throughout.
This two-hander started well, with Kate McNab (who wrote and is starring in this show) doing a stonking introduction and getting the whole audience singing along to ‘Que Sera Sera’ within a few minutes, and a simple line about ‘tinsel over the front entrance’ leaving us in stitches. However the show lost its way soon after, with a slightly odd staff recruitment scene. There was then a rather uncomfortable introduction of a character (one of several played by Ross Harvey) who was apparently hilarious on the basis of having thick glasses and a learning disability; again, very 1970’s.
The second half started with a rendition of ‘What a difference a day makes’ sung by Kate McNab, which seemed to have no relation to the plotline. The show did recover some of its early promise though, with a beautifully badly danced version of ‘Be-Bop-a-Lula’, and a lot more innuendoes. Overall, although I laughed a lot during this performance, I felt that was due largely to the company I was with more than the actual show. I came away with a feeling that we may have seen it on an ‘off night’; there were fluffed lines, and although there was plenty of innuendo in the lines, there wasn’t a lot of ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ feeling from the actors delivering them. The show could be shorter and tighter; there was a lot of time waiting for the actors to rearrange the stage, and some material that could be trimmed.
However, the audience seemed to love it and at the end almost everyone joined in with clapping and singing along to ‘Rocking around the Christmas Tree’. I’d say that this is a light-hearted, feel-good show that is likely to appeal most to older adults, but anyone who is happy to laugh at gags about ‘Santas sack’ and find mentions of Axbridge and Bridgwater funny may well enjoy it. I’d recommend taking along a couple of friends who are raucous laughers
Mrs Gerrish’s Grotto is on at The Brewery Theatre until Sunday 4th January.
– Review by Ginny Gould