Fringe review: A Day In The Lives of Frankie Abbott

A Day in the Lives of Frankie Abbott. Picture; contributed
A Day in the Lives of Frankie Abbott. Picture; contributed
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FRANKIE Abbott of the Fenn Street Gang is back... and taking no prisoners at the New Town Theatre, George Street.

* * * * *


Resplendent in trademark leather jacket, he’s still a fantasist, spinning yarns of his time in the army, or as an undercover agent, or even, of arresting gangster Ronnie Kray.

Though each tale is regaled with childish bravado, in reality, he worked at Asda.

It’s a role David Barry first played in 1968 in the sitcom Please Sir, which ran until 1972. He reprised it for a spin off series, The Fenn Street Gang, between 1971 and 1973.

For those to young to know the series, Please Sir pitched John Alderton as novice teacher into the rough inner city Fenn Street School. There, one of his pupils was the troubled ‘Walter Mitty-esque’ Frankie Abbott, a lad with a tall story for any occasion and an imagination that knew no boundaries.

As so, as we meet him in his twilight years, at first nothing appears to have changed. He may be older but he’s still calling for his mummy while threatening extreme violence to those who get in his way.

Soon we learn all is not as it seems. Frankie is in a care home, his memories muddled. His nurse Marion (who he insists on calling ‘Doll-face’), encourages her charge to remember, as he slips between past and present in the grip of increasing dementia.

Barry tackles the piece with sensitivity. Abbott’s anger, fear and confusion deftly handled - a laugh out loud anecdote quickly becomes something darker and uncomfortable to watch.

Produced by The Misty Moon film Society and just 40 minutes long, A Day in the Lives of Frankie Abbott is perfect Fringe fare. Barry falls straight back into the part he last played 43 years ago with ease, his older ‘FA’ deftly crafted in both word - he also wrote the play - and performance.

Unexpectedly touching, the piece is profound, funny, deeply poignant, and brings the comic character full circle, fleshing out his bones.

As Marion, Anita Graham is a joy to watch. Beautifully understated she brings a natural no-nonsense warmth and wry humour to proceedings. If her face is familiar, it could be that you recognise her from another long-running classic sitcom, Terry and June, in which she played boisterous neighbour Tina.

A Day in The Lives of Frankie Abbott is a Fringe gem just waiting to be discovered. Discover it today.

Run ends Monday