review: Doctor In The House, Lyceum

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THEY say laughter is the best medicine. God help us if we ever get really ill and this is offered as a cure.

The idea of reviving Richard Gordon’s ‘50s comedy classic seemed a bright one in theory. After all, nostalgia sells. The reality, however, is a script in need of some serious CPR and a spectacle at times annoying (cue Allison McKenzie’s OTT nurse Ozzy and Pete Dunwell’s booming orderly Bromley).

We partly have Robert Powell to thank. The former Holby star insisted on the original script, with tweaks, and pops up as the overbearing Sir Lancelot Spratt to bring sobriety to the near panto-level farce orbiting ambitious medic Simon Sparrow (a sturdy Phillip Langhorne) and study-shy chums John (former Bill star Tom Butcher) and ex-EastEnder Emma Barton’s ‘Allo ‘Allo-esque Vera.

Not that everyone felt the same way, of course. Around us hoots of hilarity greeted the vintage ribaldry, some even anticipating better known lines.

It says something, however, when one of the stars of the show is a mounted stag head whose antlers work as a beer pump when pulled. And that squeaky-voiced comic Joe Pasquale – inexplicably wearing a mic while colleagues simply projected - should pull things together as narrator/ Tony Grimsdyke

Not since this reviewer entered Canterbury Hospital as a child to lose his adenoids has the prospect of returning from an interval held such trepidation. This spirited cast endure until Saturday.

David Dunn