Turn Back the Clock
A selection of songs & monologues by Joyce Grenfell, adapted and performed by Cheryl Knight
Hidden Pearl Productions
The Haymarket, Basingstoke, and touring
Turn Back The Clock is a delightful insight into the humour, songs and sketches of the late great Joyce Grenfell. She was undoubtedly the Queen of the comic monologue, much loved by her loyal fans and one of those engaging performers who could be called a 'national treasure.'
This was an evening of nostalgia that began with the playing of the National Anthem. How appropriate to set the atmosphere and mood for this effervescent revue.
Adapted and skilfully performed by Cheryl Knight, who adopted the personae of Grenfell with consummate finesse, and with the splendid pianoforte accompaniment from Alice Farnham, we were treated to some of Grenfell's most famous pieces in this her centenary year.
The stage was simply set with a piano, a chair and a wooden hat stand with Grenfell's signature hats in a variety of colours, with the addition of a pair of white gloves and a handbag Knight changed characters to reveal some superb stories.
Many of the classic monologues are performed. The Nursery teacher who is explaining to a visitor how the nursery works with the famous line, " George don't do that!" and then poor Hazel getting her finger stuck in the key hole and needing the fire brigade - very funny indeed.
Or the hilarious situation where, as Mrs Tiverton singing a hymn in church, she remembers she has left some chicken bones cooking on the stove and is terrified that the house would burn down.
In the sketch The Worrier the solicitor Mr Moulder is called in because she has done a "wrong thing" by buying a raffle ticket that she considers gambling and is worried what she would do if she won the first prize.
Similarly there is a farcical story about winning a rabbit at the village fair and the many devices that are used to get rid of it.
A further favourite is Mother Comstock making her first transatlantic flight to visit her son and daughter-in-law, her "first flight with food" determined to get everything "just right."
Knight interspersed the sketches with some poignant songs and she does sing beautifully. They celebrate some key moments in Grenfell's life such as I Like Life or Turn Back the Clock and the sadness of a dance where there are not enough men to go round and the ladies have to dance with each other.
This was a witty, sharp edged evening's entertainment. Oh Joy!
Touring until May 2012
Reviewer: Robin Strapp