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Vulgar in the extreme

Penelope Keith stars in Good Grief
Penelope Keith stars in Good Grief

Review: Good Grief, the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Monday, October 15

By Keith Hunt

Heaven knows what The Good Life's prissy Margot Leadbetter or To The Manor Born's Audrey fforbes-Hamilton would have made of Penelope Keith as a hard-drinking Lancashire widow of a tabloid editor who is not averse to the occasional expletive.

Vulgar in the extreme probably, but what a treat to see one of our best loved actresses known for her cut-glass voice in the contrasting role for ace writer Keith Waterhouse's comedy Good Grief.

The play opens with June Pepper in her widow's weeds talking to her late husband in her living room. Enter her meddling stepdaughter Pauline to berate her for hitting the booze - vodka on her bedside, brandy in the cupboard and wine in the fridge.

Keith, now 72, is the undoubted star with the other three main characters - Flora Montgomery as Pauline, Jonathan Firth as oleaginous journalist Eric and Christopher Ravenscroft as a character known as The Suit - moulding neatly around her.

June finds herself drawn to a man for no other reason than he is wearing one of her husband's suits she had taken to a charity shop.

The scene switches with ease between the living room to the local pub as 1990s music from the likes of George Michael and the Beautiful South booms out.

Thanks largely to Keith's impeccable comic timing and acting, the plot builds to leave us open-mouth for the unexpected twist at the end.

The play runs until Saturday October 20.

To read an interview with Penelope Keith about the play, click here.

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