People Huv Tae Know

Sep 14 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆      Homely

Festival Theatre: Wed 13 Sept 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

Twenty years on from its first television outing, Still Game has enough followers to pack out theatres, as could be seen from the record-breaking runs of the stage adaptations at the Hydro. Indeed, there was a play before there was ever a television version. So a theatre event featuring the cast would seem to be a no-brainer.

The first thing that has to be mentioned is that People Huv Tae Know, produced by Dundee-based Choose Events, is not in any sense a play itself, being a series of reminiscences and Q&As featuring members of the cast.

The cast on stage. Pic: Choose Events.

It also has to be pointed out that there is no involvement from the programme’s writers and central performers Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill. It might be thought that this would lead to a certain ‘Hamlet without the Prince’ feel, but you also have to remember the fans’ affection for the other regular members of the cast.

So Gavin Mitchell (Boabby the barman), Paul Riley (Jack and Victor’s crony Winston), Sanjeev Kohli (shopkeeper Navid), Jane McCarry (gossipy Isa, whose catchphrase supplies the title) and Mark Cox (miserly Tam) are certainly going to be a draw for the huge legions of acolytes.

The content of the evening certainly trades on that affection, but the same could probably be said of a large proportion of those Hydro excursions. And it is clear just how much fondness the cast themselves have for the programme and for what it has done for their careers and profiles. It is mentioned that, despite his long and varied career, it is only for Still Game that Paul Young (the programme’s unfeasibly-eared Shug) is ever recognised.

adept raconteurs

The five performers are adept raconteurs, spinning yarns out of both well-worn anecdotes and ones that clearly come as something of a surprise to the others. At one moment, during an extended and particularly lavatorial interlude, McCarry claims that they are so comfortable in each others’ company that they sometimes forget they are on stage.

There is undoubtedly an ‘adult’ feel to a lot of it, with some of Kohli’s remarks in particular distinctly near the knuckle. However, the overall atmosphere is a decidedly comforting one, with the audience perfectly happy to let the cast riff on various topics, occasionally guided by Bill Dewar, and guest appearances by Lynne McCallum (Peggy) and Matt Costello (Stevie the bookie) are greeted with joy.

Matt Costello, Gavin Mitchell, Jane McCarry, Lynne McCallum, Mark Cox, Sanjeev Kohli and Paul Riley backstage. Pic: Choose Events.

Anyone not intimately familiar with the programme would undoubtedly be nonplussed by the whole thing, but it is difficult to imagine that anyone in that situation would attend. It is equally difficult to imagine that any of the programme’s countless admirers would find themselves disappointed.

After a relatively controlled first half, which fairly flies by, the second half, devoted largely to audience questions, feels a great deal more diffuse. The inclusion of an auction, a raffle and a fancy-dress contest starts to give things the air of a social club event rather than an evening in a huge theatre; while it does make for a homely and inclusive time, this is perhaps not representative of the ticket prices.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to credit that anyone less miserable than Tam himself would end up feeling short-changed by an evening that does exactly what is advertised. Since it seems likely that Still Game itself has now finally been killed off, its fans will be happy to attend events like this, especially when the warmth they feel is so palpably radiated back at them.

Running time 2 hours 30 minutes including one interval
Festival Theatre, 13-29 Nicolson St St, EH8 9FT
Wednesday 13 September 2023
7.30 pm
Run ended

The tour continues:

The Concert Hall, Perth
22 Sep 2023
Tickets and details: Book here.

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock
4 Oct 2023
Tickets and details: Book here.

The Concert Hall, Motherwell
13 Oct 2023
Tickets and details: Book here.

Eden Court, Inverness
18 Oct 2023
Tickets and details: Book here.

Fancy Dress Competition. Pic: Choose Events.


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