Having been reviewing a number of the 'Bottom' stage shows recently, I felt it would be an insult not to review the stage show adaption of my favourite sitcom - 'Rab C. Nesbitt'. 'Rab C.' had only been on air for two years when the cast and crew decided to take advantage of its popularity and expand the format. Rather than make 'Rab' into a movie ( how great would that have been? ), Ian Pattison simply constructed a stage show, produced and directed by Colin Gilbert and Brian Jobson. The cast were all present and correct, with the exceptions of Brian Pettifer and Iain McColl ( presumably they were too busy with other commitments ). A supporting cast was made up consisting of 'Naked Video' star Andy Gray, David McGowan, Sally Howitt and future 'Extras' and 'Ugly Betty' star Ashley Jenson.
'Rab C. Nesbitt Live' was a sell-out, playing to packed theatres nationwide. On the final night of the nationwide tour, a recording was made of the show from The Capital Theatre in Aberdeen. Unlike the later 'Bottom' stage shows, most of 'Rab C. Nesbitt Live' is largely episodic. In fact, much of the plot is lifted directly from the series two episode 'Lesson'. Not really a negative thing I must admit. It starts with Rab returning home from the Scotland vs Italy World Cup, several months late, only later to be thrown out by Mary, who is none too happy about being left high and dry for the whole time he was gone.
In act two Rab has moved in with Jamesie ( who has also been kicked out by Ella ) in his unhygienic flat and from then on muses on the mistakes he has made in life, such as leaving school too early, marrying the wrong woman at the wrong time etc. Even the flashback to Rab meeting his first love, Isobel Niddrie, makes its way in here. On television Isobel was portrayed by Susan Nisbet, here it is Ashley Jensen. The show ends with the Nesbitts and the Cotters being happily ( well, to a degree ) reunited with each other.
Despite the over-familiarity of the material, 'Rab C. Nesbitt Live' is worth watching for killing a couple of hours. Some scenes work better here than they did on television, others not. The opening scene between Mary and Ella in my opinion however goes on far longer than it actually needs to. On the plus side, the job centre scene was hilarious, particularly when Jamesie finds a bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo in Rab's shopping bag. What followed was a spoof of those corny commercials advertising said shampoo.
JAMESIE: I didnae know you had dandruff!
RAB: I don't. I drink that after I've been out on the p**s.
If nothing else, 'Rab C. Live' kept fans amused whilst they eagerly awaited the arrival of the next series of their favourite show. At the very end, after taking his final bow, Gregor Fisher, now no longer Nesbitt, removes the bandage from his head and casually tosses it into the audience. According to the 'Comedy Connections' edition dedicated to 'Rab', a second stage show was planned in 2000 but did not go ahead as Fisher had decided ( at that time anyway ) that he wanted to throw in the towel, which prompted a public fall-out between him and co-star Tony Roper ( who had turned down other offers of work thinking that the tour was going ahead ). However, in October 2016, Ian Pattison told 'The Herald' that plans are in place for a new stage show to be shown at the SSE Hydro, following in the path of 'Still Game'. Fingers crossed.
Funniest bit - Jamesie is about to cop-off with a girl whilst Rab sits in the corner listening in disgust. Hearing a loud crackling noise, the girl asks: ''Are you eating a packet of crisps or something?''. ''No, I was taking my underpants off!'' replies Jamesie. Rab cringes!
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