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Review: Only Fools and Horses – The Musical, at Theatre Royal Haymarket

Peckham TV treasure goes up West for a musical overhaul that's not as incongruous as one might fear

02 March, 2019 — By Catherine Usher

Only Fools and Horses – The Musical. Photo: Johan Persson

PRANCING into the West End direct from Peckham, it’s 1989 and the only difference between the TV show and this production is that Del Boy, Rodney and the rest of the gang keep bursting into song every five minutes.

It’s not as incongruous as one might fear – the production has a rather 60s/70s British movie musical feel to it, along the lines of Carol Reed’s Oliver, or Scrooge starring Albert Finney.

The musical, written by Paul Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan with music by John Sullivan and Chas Hodges, certainly tries to give the fans what they want – all the show’s highlights feature, including Del Boy and Rodney’s romances with Raquel and Cassandra.

The striking detail is how much the cast members resemble the original characters. They either look or sound exactly like the original, or in some cases both (step forward and take your bow, Peter Baker as Trigger). Pippa Duffy as Cassandra has the severe, Anna Wintour bob, Raquel (Dianne Pilkington) has all the warmth and kindness and Rodney has all the mannerisms to a tee.

Indeed, it’s hard to believe that Ryan Hutton as Rodney is making his professional debut. He exudes confidence and ease in the role – which is a challenge when playing uptight Rodney – particularly charming the audience during the sweet scene in which he helps his fiancée choose her wedding dress.

Although it’s an ensemble show with strong performances all round, Whitehouse’s entrance generates excitement from an expectant audience and he delivers an amusing, authentic performance as grumpy Grandad. Meanwhile, Tom Bennett’s Del Boy has just the right balance of charisma and swagger to convince the audience that he who dares wins.

Until August 31
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