REVIEW: Heartbeat – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Axed in 2010 and with 15 million viewers in its heyday, Heartbeat was a staple of Sunday night TV for 18 years. Cashing in on the current trend for nostalgia, this new theatrical version should have been given major cardiac surgery before it ever got to a stage.

Set in 1969, this broad comedy drama written by cast member David Lonsdale tries to recreate the atmosphere of the homely TV show, but it is quickly evident that what works on screen doesn’t necessarily translate to the theatre.

Staged as a series of brief scenes, the whole production is slow paced with little to grab and keep the audience’s attention. In short, mysterious incomers, including a young Irish backpacker, arrive in sleepy Aidensfield and spell trouble for the residents, throw into the mix some rabbit poaching, a proposed Bank Holiday knees up in the pub and a new jukebox and that’s about the long and the short of it.

The cast soldier on bravely with the material they are given and turn in solid enough performances. Steven Blakeley reprising his much-loved role of PC Younger and Matt Milburn as PC Joe Malton, the most successful among them. However, Carly Cook recreating the role of Gina Bellamy needs work on her diction and Callum O’Neill’s accent as young Irishman Aidan, sails over the Irish Sea to Scotland at times. Veteran cast member David Lonsdale playing village buffoon David Stockwell is warmly received.

It is a sorry state of affairs when a stuffed dog garners the biggest reaction of the evening. Loyal fans may be pleased to see these much-loved characters resurrected for the stage, but the script doesn’t do this TV classic any justice. Stay at home and watch the re-runs instead.

This review was originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/heartbeat-theatre-royal-glasgow/