REVIEW: ‘The Way Old Friends Do’ @ Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Catherine Muxworthy February 28, 2023

The Way Old Friends Do – written and starring Ian Hallard (The Boys in the Band), and directed by Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Dracula, Doctor Who, The League of Gentlemen) – is to show at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from Tuesday, February 28 till Saturday, March 4.

This tender new comedy, presented by Birmingham Rep and James Seabright in association with Jason Haigh-Ellery and Park Theatre, showcases a heartfelt story of queer friendship and a love of ABBA.

Two Birmingham school friendships in the late 1980s share coming outs – one as gay and the other, as a die-hard ABBA fan. The play catches up with them 30 years later, when the pair – Peter (Ian Hallard) and Edward (James Bradshaw) – are reunited to form an ABBA tribute band with a twist – the members will all be in drag. Will their friendship survive life on the road though, especially when an attractive stranger becomes part of the equation?

With a sharply funny, high-camp, and dragged-up script, this production is full of laugh-out-loud moments woven alongside the heart-warming story of friendship, coming outs, and love. Packed with glitter, fake beards, platform boots, and ABBA jokes, The Way Old Friends Do is a love letter to LGBTQ+ friendships and fandoms which will appeal to fans of productions like Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.

This uplifting and charming play also stars Donna Berlin as the lesbian stage manager, Sara Crowe as Mrs Campbell, Andrew Horton as Christian and Rose Shalloo as Jodie, and features the voices of Paul O’Grady and Miriam Margolyes.

Following its run in Birmingham, The Way Old Friends Do sets out on a UK tour which includes Sheffield Theatres, Park Theatre, London, and The Lowry, Manchester.

For tickets to the Birmingham show, CLICK HERE

All photos by Darren Bell