REVIEW: ‘The Good life,’ in theatre and what it was really like 

by Shannon Barkley-Nakajima (Surbiton High School)

In the heart of Richmond, is the infamous Richmond Theatre, sat pridefully opposite a popular park amongst the locals. Upon entering, it’s hard not to miss the noticeably detailed craftsmanship that embellishes it’s exquisite exterior; I couldn’t help but to gaze at the engravings adorning the subtle peachy tones and swirls carved into its architectural design and stepping onto the vermilion velvet carpets blanketing the theatre floor, it was a truly elegant sight.  I felt an odd feeling of ecstasy and a buzz of excitement to take a stroll down memory lane, revisiting the experience of attending the home of entertainment and its scenic surroundings after missing it’s magic for 2 whole years! 

I invited along a close friend with me to relive some of the old yet unforgettable memories we shared as we tucked into a traditional and hearty sweet and salty popcorn. Then we navigated our way up to our seats via the majestic, golden-railed spiral staircase, excitedly awaiting the curtain call for the show to commence.  On the busy night, luckily, we were only 4 rows away from centre stage, greeted by the draped, grand splendour of the imposing curtains! As everyone grabbed some last minute refreshments and sat comfortably in their seats we couldn’t wait to watch the classic British sitcom, The Good life- a television series that had been brought to the stage and beautifully directed into a theatrical masterpiece. 

The story presents the lives of Tom and Barbara Good, a middle-class working couple whom jointly decided to start fresh, as they embark on a journey to adopting a more simple, sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle. A crazy idea pops up on Tom’s 40th birthday in which Barbara supports, after he realises he’s had enough of his job as a draughtsman for a cereal company producing plastics and makes the decision to leave. Tom and Barbara decide to start only using what is truly essential, enabling them to save money as they come up with their own original and money-efficient solutions. The couple both work hard harnessing their inner strength to conquer the struggles of manual labour by maintaining any success from making their own natural and organic produce; they do this by investing in animals such as cows and goats instead of buying groceries at the local supermarket and they generate their own electricity for a more affordable approach to life’s requirements, which if everyone if the world outside the stage did, would reduce food wastage by tons! We see the impact of these changes on their lives and how they coped in a humorous way on stage making it an entertaining, interesting and an impressive theatre performance and story.

The couple have a close yet not necessarily loving relationship with their neighbours, Margo and Jerry Leadbetter, whom both live on , ‘The Avenue-Surbiton,’ yet they have a more leading-class attitude. Jerry works in the same company as Tom did and admits to only having ‘10% of the talent,’ Tom has, although he is in a more senior position, so asks Tom to rejoin the company. Margo, his wife, is a humourous and unique character of her own, as she speaks as if she is above everyone and inherits a posh accent. She is part of the elite golf clubs and is known to be dependent on others to get things done- they are painted as considerably richer than their neighbours, Tom and Barbara. The couples’ lives seem to intertwine with each other somehow as they are invited over to hilarious dinner parties that go very wrong… 

Tom and Barabara are a humble and comical couple whom are my favourite characters due to their   strong bond where they support each other through thick and thin and represent a positive and hands on approach to life; they also have a healthy,romantic relationship one would aspire to have. It was fascinating watching the couple embark on their journey from office workers to farmers and observe the interesting relationship they have with their neighbours, being both humourous and enjoyable to watch. 

Overall,  ‘The Good Life,’definitely exceeded my expectations. The talented cast brought the story to life in a beautiful and amusing way and certainly did not underdeliver with their talented performance. I recommend it for to all audiences, however, to be able to understand the humour properly I would definitely advise for ages 12 plus.

From start to end, the theatrical masterpiece portrays a traditional British sitcom including plentiful humour and sarcasm;  it’s a must watch and I rate the performance 5 star for the good spirited, well-directed and performed, enjoyable comedy for all especially on the stage. So if you haven’t already, I urge you to go watch it!