Denied the opportunity to attend live entertainment for so long the theatregoers from North Staffordshire would have probably accepted any chance to make their way to a show. As it happens, Third Time Lucky Eric! – with its mix of knockabout humour and rocking songs from the Sixties -proved the perfect cure for those lockdown blues.
Based around a group that has had more name changes than gigs under its belt and managed by Eric (David Graham) a sudden opportunity arrives to play at The Place when Manfred Mann and Pan’s People cry off. We follow the San Remos (or is it The Rebels?) – which comprises Colin (Dan Graham), Al (Alan Howell) and Ray (Harvey James) – as they prepare for the concert and the concert itself. Sub plots follow lead guitarist Al’s attempts to seduce Colin’s girlfriend Enid (Georgia Gagen); the bickering between Eric and his wife Bev (Laura Sheppard): and the unlikely romance between Eric’s dad Ernest (played by himself) and Miss Perkins (also played by Laura Sheppard).
The show provides the perfect vehicle for the cast to showcase both their comedic and musical talents. The audience enjoyed the laugh out loud moments with local references and the music was of the highest quality. From the opening Kinks number, the audience was swept into the action and for this particular reviewer the rendition of Everlasting Love was as good as the live version by Love Affair that I had the pleasure to witness while the version of This Boy had the quality of The Beatles at their best.
The opening scene sees Ernest and Colin discussing the pandemic situation and how the audience is not supposed to clap, sing or dance. There was little chance of those rules being kept as the social distancing meant that everyone felt safe enough to sing and clap along from the first beat and by the time that Build Me Up Buttercup was being played the audience was dancing away.
From the car park attendant who looked after you on your arrival through those on track and trace to those staff working front of house, safety was paramount. But there was joy on the faces of all staff. You could see the delight that their theatre is back up and running.
This production deserved to have more than a third of its capacity and in more normal times would probably have been a sell-out. But even so the atmosphere was electric. The New Vic should be congratulated on being the first theatre to open after the lockdown. As such, a little history was made, and the audience members were part of that history. We can say “We were there” and can count ourselves very, very lucky to have been in Eric’s company.
The run continues until May 29th. For availability contact firstname.lastname@example.org