A RIGHT Pair is the touching story of a couple’s life together, from their meeting at 21 years of age to standing in Liverpool’s Unity Theatre more than three decades later.
Bette Bourne and Paul Shaw take the audience on a whistle-stop tour of their personal and professional relationship as part of Liverpool’s Homotopia Festival.
Recollections of their life are peppered with re-enactments of scenes they performed together on stage during their entertainment careers. In the beginning there is Shaw tap dancing in an adaptation of Balzac’s Sarrasine, then a reprisal of their pairing as Hadrian and Antinuous in Get Hur, Salomé, and of course the handbag scene from The Importance of Being Earnest.
Bourne is a wonderful, sour-faced Mrs Bracknell.
Strangely, there is a moment of audience participation to help them sing a rude version of the William Tell Overture, entitled Titty-bum.
The 72-minute performance is frantic at times and the script does not always run smoothly. Shaw forgets his lines at one point and goes off stage to examine the script.
Bourne, who was previously waiting stage right, casually walks across the empty stage towards Shaw, paying the audience no attention, reassuring him with the words: “Just bring it (the script) on (the stage), love.”
In most productions this would be an awful moment but in a show about two men’s life-long partnership, this touching glimpse of them outside of their script adds to the experience.
A Right Pair is at times downright silly with, in their words, “gratuitous fan work” involving an oversized pink feather fan but the show also has a gravitas.
Bourne’s reprises his role as Quentin Crisp in Tim Fountains’ Resident Alien, quotes Dorothy Parker and the curtain comes down with the couple paying tribute to one another.