Review: Corrie! at The Lyceum. Sheffield - VIDEO

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CRAMMING 50 years on the cobbles into a two hour play is one tall order, writes Sarah Dunn.

But Jonathan Harvey’s whistlestop time travel through Britain’s longest-running soap succeeds in celebrating all the best bits which have kept it close to our nation’s heart for the last half a century.

It was a pretty tough call for the cast too, since Corrie! comprises just six actors and narrator Gaynor Faye - she entered the Street as Judy Mallett in 1993 - who have to swap and change between all our most loved, and hated, characters past and present.

The fast pace and high energy makes for a hilarious rollercoaster ride, taking in a trip from way back down memory lane with old favourites like Ena Sharples, Elsie Tanner and Hilda Ogden, right through to the spectacular events of the live tram crash episode before Christmas.

There’s regular check-ins with Gail’s disastrous love life and side-splitting looks at the ups and downs of Ken and Deidre Barlow’s messy affairs, as well as more sentimental moments, such as Hilda unwrapping the late Stan’s spectacles, which still had the power to move in among all the laughter.

But it was the humour which prevailed, particularly in the canny mannerisms and diction of characters like Ken, Jack Duckworth and Steve McDonald, and the good natured melodramatic spoofs of some of the more far-fetched and thrilling story lines..

This mixture of grit and humour has kept the soap such a success all these years and is transported effectively to the stage making for a truly feel good, get lost in it all, night out at the theatre.

The only downside to seeing it on Monday night was missing out on the TV double bill.

Corrie! runs in Sheffield until Saturday, March 12, 2011.

Sarah Dunn

VIDEO: Press the play button to see what Coronation Street stars think of the stage show Corrie!