The Good Life, starring Rufus Hound, and Sally Tatum is a show that recreates much of the original, but lacks its extraordinary charm.

 The Good Life

Everyman, Cheltenham                              Touring from Dec 4th, 2hrs 10mins


‘Sherry, Jerry!’ Margo demands of her hen-pecked husband in their Surbiton home. Their neighbours Tom and Barbara Good are also present and correct. They have given up the rat race and now live the self-sufficiency dream next to their animatronic goat, which eats green olives on stage.

But aside from the goat’s performance, an air of disappointment hangs heavily over this stage version of the legendary series (it kicked off in 1975). It is still set in the mid-1970s: prawn cocktails and chicken Kiev are on Margo’s menu. 

The wallpaper is floral while the period wardrobe is made of polyester. The wallpaper is a bit pointless as it doesn’t attempt to repurpose or exploit the original’s eco-awareness.

Rufus Hound and Sally Tatum (both above with Dominic Rowan and Preeya Kalidas) have the deeply unenviable job of recreating the Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal roles

Rufus Hound, Sally Tatum (both with Dominic Rowan & Preeyakalidas) have the difficult job of recreating Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall roles.

We are just sucked into a two-hour episode written by Jeremy Sams, who also directs. It’s based loosely on an amalgam of John Esmonde and Bob Larbey’s TV scripts, with Tom going through a midlife crisis at 40, quitting his job making plastic toys for cereal packets and becoming a smallholder. 

Rufus Hound, Sally Tatum and Felicity Kendal have the unenviable task of recreating Richard Briers roles and Felicity Kendal role. They ramp up the mutual lust and at one point – shock alert! – roll a spliff. 

They get very little humor out of their marriage.

Dominic Rowan’s suave executive Jerry slyly evokes smoothie chops actor Peter Bowles in his prime. (Indeed Bowles declined to play Jerry, which was taken over by Paul Eddington. 

Margo (Preeyakalidas) was too cruel for me. Penelope Keith’s incarnation was humourless and snobbish yet Margo’s sheer goodness of heart always radiated the series.

The storylines here involve a drunken, farcical dinner party; there’s a prolonged sequence about reviving a piglet, involving a burly policeman and a milkwoman, providing supporting roles for Nigel Betts and Tessa Churchard.

And finally there’s a post-mortem of Margo’s disastrous am-dram stint in The Sound Of Music that belongs in The Archers. It’s a show that recreates the look of the original but nothing of its extraordinary charm.