Rita, Sue & Bob Too!

"Rita, Sue & Bob Too! is an adult comedy play filled to the brim of laugh out loud moments"

Originally an 80’s cult classic movie, Rita, Sue & Bob Too! has been adapted into a play and is currently playing at the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool after transferring from St Helens’ Theatre Royal. Not for the easily offended, this 18+ play has adult humour, sexual references and even nudity.

The play tells of Rita and Sue, two best friend schoolgirls who in their spare time babysit for Bob and his wife, Michelle. Bob embarks on an affair with the friends unbeknownst to Michelle. Each of the girls vie for Bob’s attention to the detriment of their friendship. 

The plot is simple and leaves an array of room for the actors to delve into the comedy this play is most known for. The text written by Andrea Dunbar in 1987 is laugh out loud throughout. The small cast are perfectly assembled and each have developed their characterisation extensively. Each talented member nailed their comedy timing and physical comedy. 

Michael Parr, best known as bad boy Ross Barton in Emmerdale, prospers in the role of the lothario Bob. In the opening of act one, his charm and wit wins over the schoolgirls as the action takes place in his car. Kay Nicholson (Rita) and Jenna Sian-O’hara (Sue) both embody the naivety and childlike nature of the younger roles there are playing. Although we learn they aren’t as innocent as first thought. The natural comedic rapport between the three actors is obvious and apparent that they are all enjoying their time on stage.

Jessica Ellis (Michelle) plays the devoted but paranoid wife well. Playing the part in a more subdued style in the first act it was a welcome contrast in the second act when Michelle becomes fiery and obsessive regarding her suspicions around Bob’s infidelity. 

The parents of the school girls are played by Liverpool legend Chrissy Rock and Jamie Greers whose every moment on stage had the audience in hysterics. His interpretation of Sue’s alcoholic dad was lavish and extravagant. 

Scenes and staging were reminiscent of the 80’s if a little sparse. Minimalist staging was initially effective in the opening of act one with nothing more than Bob’s car on stage and a lengthy amount of time focused on this scene allowed the actors to shine. However as the play progressed, the stage at times felt bare with the majority of action taking place centre stage. We are taken from Bob’s car to the home of Sue which is nothing more than two sofas, a lamp and a bottle of Whiskey. Towards the end of Act two we see the only time all actors are on stage together as the culmination of the play is pantomime like with each character trying to out shine the others. It is at time messy and hard to distinguish who to focus on as the action bounces back and forth. Michelle and Sue’s mum in a bar is the highlight scene of the play. Chrissy Rock’s comedy prowess as a drunken parent is a masterclass in having the audience in the palm of their hand.

Set against a backdrop of 80’s hits scene changes were presented as a blackout on stage, with stage management dragging props on and off whilst lights shone out to the audience from the front of the stage. It sometimes felt long and it was a shame it wasn’t directed in a way that could have included the actors and could have encompassed even more comedy. The periods of time whilst scenes were changed were supported by music related to the previous scene being blasted into the theatre. ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen used when Bob felt Michelle was onto him regarding his affair and ‘Our House’ by Madness after visiting the home of Sue. Whilst it was great to hear these iconic tunes it took us away from the story repeatedly.

Themes within the play are sometimes hard to understand in this context due to how controversial they are. Within the first few moments on stage Bob asks the girls if they are virgins and would they like to try putting a condom on him. Bob states he is 27 and is visibly exploiting two 15 year old schoolgirls and entices them with sex as payment which audience members may find disturbing especially considering how much laughter the scenes get. Whilst the laughs come quick and fast at no point does Bob get his comeuppance for his actions.

Rita, Sue & Bob Too! is an adult comedy play filled to the brim of laugh out loud moments. In todays society it can at times be an uncomfortable watch given the shows context and themes. The play is not for the easily offended but it is a play of its time.

This production was reviewed on the 13th February and runs at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool until the 19th February 2023.  Tickets available here: Rita Sue and Bob Too | Epstein Theatre

Review written by Jordan Potts


Photo credit: David Munn Photography

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