Review: The Way Old Friends Do

Ian Hallard (Peter), Rose Shalloo (Jodie), Sara Crowe (Mrs Campbell), James Bradshaw (Edward) in The Way Old Friends Do. Photos by Darren Bell.

‘You cannot assess a person’s integrity and ability simply by whether or not they like ABBA.’

This is just one of many memorable one-liners from this brilliantly funny show.

In 1988, two school friends tentatively come out to one another: one as gay, the other – more shockingly – as an ABBA fan. Nearly thirty years later, a chance meeting sets them on a brand-new path and they decide to form the world’s first ABBA tribute band – in drag! But can their friendship survive the tribulations of a life on the road which includes platform boots, fake beards and a distractingly attractive stranger?

The Way Old Friends Do, Birmingham Rep
James Bradshaw (Edward) and Andrew Horton (Christian).

The Way Old Friends Do, Rep Theatre, Birmingham

Simultaneously tender and laugh-out-loud funny, this heartfelt story is written by and stars Ian Hallard and directed by his real life partner Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Dracula, Doctor Who, The League of Gentlemen).

The show brought an unexpected turn in the spotlight for Tariyé Peterside, understudy to all three of the show’s female roles. Peterside has recently been standing in for Sara Crowe in the role of Mrs Campbell, an accompanist for the local am-dram society – but you’d never guess it. Her one-liners were among those which evoked the most riotous laughs and whose character proved my personal favourite on the night.

But there were solid performances turned in from all concerned in what was a perfectly packaged piece of comedy-drama, punctuated with an Abba soundtrack.

Also featuring the voices of two of the UK’s most familiar performers, Miriam Margolyes and Paul O’Grady, this uplifting play is a breath of fresh air.

Fitting too then that TWTFD is set in Birmingham, the home of its world premiere performance, before embarking on a tour of the UK, including London.

The Way Old Friends Do, Rep Theatre, Birmingham

Hallard has penned a genuine love letter to ABBA but that’s not to say this show is only for die-hard fans of the super troupers (albeit I am one of them!) This is at its heart a touching story about trust and enduring friendship and being true to oneself.

It’s also a story that will appeal to anyone who understands how it feels to be a fan: of ABBA – or of anyone. A celebration of friendship – and Dancing Queens – everywhere. Lots of fun.

The Way Old Friends Do is playing at The Rep until Saturday, 4th March. To book tickets visit here call 0121 236 4455.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *