Michael Cox reviews 'a big treat from the start'.
Adapting a hit TV programme into a live experience can easily go wrong: go too far away from the source material and fans can feel alienated at best, and yet keep too close and the question of ‘why bother’ becomes difficult to answer.
Of course, the makers of Still Game had one ace up their sleeve when they announced a new show at the Hydro for this year: they’d done it before to great success. Which in turn adds a further rung to the ladder of possible hiccups—can that first success be repeated, or even surpassed?
So it’s a pleasure to report that Still Game Live 2: Bon Voyage is a big treat from the start. Is there a plot? Yes, of sorts. Jack and Victor are really feeling the cold this winter, and through a chance meeting with a pal they get the genius idea of taking jobs on a cruise ship as dance hosts. Meanwhile, the main gang have discovered a secret: Tam’s kept a note of every time he’s conned everyone out of something. Hating the fact he’s been done by Tam the most, Winston decides to take cunning revenge. All of this leads to the second act; a cruise through the Mediterranean because—well, why not?
Still Game was never about the plot or themes but the banter, and that is when the production really excels. Sure, the cheeky winks to the live audience (including ‘BIG’ entrances for all of the seven leads) are fun to watch, and the musical numbers and big set pieces are well-staged and constantly impress. But the big laughs come when the main seven try to one-up each other with putdowns or cheeky insights.
Have audiences seen stuff like this before? Sure. Could it use a bit of a trim in its running time? Maybe, though with a few more runs the rough bits will surely get smoothed out. In the end, what Still Game has going for it are seven characters who are great fun to spend time with: they don’t take life too seriously yet have a lot of heart.
With big production values, large screens that allow the furthest seat back a chance to enjoy the shenanigans and a talented company comfortable in their roles and the live component, Still Game shows that the bunch from Craiglang still have a lot of laughs to give.
Still Game Live 2: Bon Voyage is at the Hydro at the SEC until February 16, 2017.