Review: Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Mark Arden and Jessie Wallace

Mark Arden and Jessie Wallace - Credit: Archant

The Fifties West End underworld is brought to life with lashings of Cockney rhyming slang in this charming and entertaining musical.

Gary Kemp and Stefan Booth

Gary Kemp and Stefan Booth - Credit: Archant

Written by ex-con Frank Norman, the show tells the tale of Fred, a loveable rogue who comes out of prison to find he is not the king of the manor he once was.

Yet while Jessie Wallace and Gary Kemp’s turns as Lil and PC Collins respectively are sure to bring people through the doors, the supporting cast are the real showstoppers.

Plump prostitute Betty (played by Susie Chard) particularly excels as the archetypal tart with a heart and diminutive aging criminal Red Hot (Christoper Ryan), just had to grace the stage to have me in hysterics.

The show’s original run in the Sixties is well-known for launching the career of Barbara Windsor, who seemed to be throughly enjoying the revival judging by her reaction from two rows in front of me - and if that’s not a worthy endorsement, I’m not sure what is.

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Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be runs at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, until Sunday June 8.

Tickets cost from £7 to £38 and are available by the calling the Box Office on 020 8534 0310 or visiting

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