French and Saunders say goodbye

THEY are Britain's queens of comedy but their performance at Ipswich's regent theatre last night was maybe not one of their best.

French and Saunders

Regent Theatre, Ipswich

Last night

THEY are Britain's queens of comedy but their performance at Ipswich's regent theatre last night was maybe not one of their best.

In a show that effectively says goodbye to their 30-year double act, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders drew on a selection of sketches drawn from their longstanding partnership.

Touring the UK for the first time in several years the duo have decided to say farewell by doing what they did when it all began - entertaining live.

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Though at times there was the occasional sign of wear and some patches - notably the Florida sketch - that didn't get the audience rolling in the aisles as you might expect, it was a show that overall entertained and amused.

Yet whether all of it was the side splitting experience the punters were hoping for, I am not totally convinced - perhaps, if anything, there was an unfortunate over reliance on technology at the expense of audience rapport.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of giggles, classic French and Saunders moments and lots of the zany clowning around we have come to love and expect - not least the fun they clearly have on scooters.

The farming Thompson sisters with their wobbly cows hit the spot as did the Madonna skit.

Interspersed with a giant screen showing monologues and sketches, the show included chocoholic Dawn's entertaining parody of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer's memorable Marlene Dietrich and the pair's excellent fun poking of Joan and Jackie Collins.

The original Absolutely Fabulous sketch was fascinating to watch and the giant Vicar of Dibley with the Comedy Goddess were highlights of the second half that seemed at times to lack pace.

Though judging by the reaction of the audience last night they are nonetheless on their way to becoming one of those much-loved British institutions.

Goodbye girls and good luck.

JAMES MARSTON

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