Review: You Can Always Hand Them Back, music and lyrics by Peter Skellern, book by Roger Hall at Colchester Mercury until June 28.

Paul Greenwood, as Maurice in You Can Always Hand Them Back at the Colchester Mercury.

Paul Greenwood, as Maurice in You Can Always Hand Them Back at the Colchester Mercury. - Credit: Archant

This is not quite your usual musical comedy but it is a delight, especially if you’re over a certain age, because it’s all about the worrying vicissitudes and pleasures of grandparenting. For those who have been called upon to look after their children’s little darlings, it will strike strong notes of joyful déjà vu and the odd pang of regret.

Kate Dyson and Paul Greenwood, as Kath and Maurice in You Can Always Hand Them Back at the Colcheste

Kate Dyson and Paul Greenwood, as Kath and Maurice in You Can Always Hand Them Back at the Colchester Mercury. - Credit: Archant

I’m not sure what the younger generation will make of it but, if they have a sense of humour and an ear for a good tune, they too ought to enjoy this look at life from a mature perspective because it has oodles of information, a lot of good jokes and a bunch of witty melodic songs.

It tells the story of Kath and Maurice, two old duffers just dying for their children to have kids and, when it happens, how they handle the inevitable blitz and upheaval these little newcomers bring to their normally settled, staid lives. And it’s nicely done without a child in sight.

Basically it is a two-hander with a couple of very polished professionals, Kate Dyson and Paul Greenwood, as Kath and Maurice articulating and singing beautifully, but then there’s also Stefan Bednarczyk at the grand piano, tinkling the ivories brilliantly. He’s not really there of course, not part of the story but he is often part of the joke, joining in the singing and handy for a bit of repartee. Almost one of the family.

Most usefully, with the show programme they have included a separate little booklet with all the songs printed out, so if by any chance you don’t catch the odd line, there it is in black and white. The numbers all pick up a thread of the story and carry it on.


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The titles of one or two tell their own tales: My Hearing is Absolutely Fine and the bathtime song, Don’t Let the Little B*****d Get Away. One or two are very funny like The Twice a Night Tinkle Tango and a couple are quite touching – They Grow Up So Quickly and Grandmas and Grandpas Live On Forever.

There’s a lot of fun to be had with the in-laws, baby-sitting, the terrors of the baby alarm, entertaining the kids on wet days and much, much more that will ring a lot of merry childraising chimes.

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David Henshall.

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