Thought-provoking laughs at Bury

Lucky Sods by John Godber at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until Saturday.The subject's made for it and, as we expect from this playwright, there are laughs a-plenty as he vectors in with his unerring antenna on the working class at home and at play.

David Henshall

Lucky Sods by John Godber at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until Saturday.

The subject's made for it and, as we expect from this playwright, there are laughs a-plenty as he vectors in with his unerring antenna on the working class at home and at play. But there's also a darker edge to this Godber than some of the others.

It's all about winning big bucks on the lottery, a pleasurable and happy occurrence, the answer to most people's credit-crunch prayers, you would say. But money, if not necessarily the root of all evil, does have the fatal facility to dance on our weak spots if they are ready to rumba.


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And so it proves with Jean and Morris, long years married and crushed by a sad secret that they can't talk about, they are always at odds, ping-ponging insults and taking delight in jibes that hurt.

He is especially incensed when Jean tells him she's changed one or two of his lottery numbers. However, he's less angry when they win two million quid.

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Jean then wants to spend, spend, spend. They go star-hunting in Hollywood and move on to Venice but this is not really Morris's thing. He really only wants a nice conservatory on their house.

Then Jean discovers the joys of a comfortable home life and it's Morris who wants to stray, running off with Connie, the singer in the amateur band he plays drums for, apparently rather badly.

In between, and offering a lot of good laughs, the pair are assailed by Jean's sister Annie and her thicko hubby Norman who just can't wait to get their hands on some of the dosh and slowly, between the funnies, Godber gets over his simply message that the grass may look greener over the fence but you can get hurt trying to cut it.

It's a wildly unlikely plot in places, a basically serious play sneaking up on us from behind all that strong north country humour with very good performances from the four actors. Gordon Kane and Jacqueline Naylor carry us along cleverly in the fluctuating moods of Morris and Jean, filling us in equal parts with laughter and pain.

Fiona Wass comes and goes brilliantly not only as Annie but as Morris's forgetfully funny dying mum and as his money-lusting girlfriend Connie, while James Weaver switches from Norman to an opportunist American waiter and a vicar with a penchant for gambling.

As I say, the jokes come thick and fast but this is a piece of theatre that makes you think as well.

David Henshall.

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