HH Even by the standards of the 70s, Big Bad Mouse in its original format would have been a pretty feeble comedy.
A meek office worker suddenly becomes an object of lust amongst his co-workers (the women, at least) after being mistaken for a deviant who chased a young girl across Manchester Common. The joke (which is distinctly unfunny today) being that everyone from the office dolly bird to the buttoned-up secretary chooses to see this as a symbol of virility rather than sexual perversion.
The reason it seems to have survived is that its original cast, which included Eric Sykes and Jimmy Edwards, wrung far more laughs from the audience with their ad-libs , so the play became the act rather than them acting in a play.
Cannon and Ball try to rework the same magic in this revival, with Bobby as the doormat and Tommy as his superior superior. However, despite their longevity as a double act, neither of them is as comically gifted as Sykes and Edwards.
They pick members of the audience to use as their foils for the evening but most of their banter consists of telling them to shut up.
They and the rest of the cast steam roller their way through arcane jokes and some rather poorly executed slapstick, relying heavily on the goodwill of the people watching to go along with the gag and join in the laughs, which to their credit, and possibly the cast's relief, they do.
As subtle as being hit over the head with a rubber mallet, this is really a way for the duo to extend their panto season into summer, and if audiences approach it with the same willingness to be amused as they do that, they probably will be.
Running time: Two hours. Until Saturday.