Theatre Review: Hairy Bikers at Royal & Derngate

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Until a few years ago, few people would have drawn any automatic connection between bikers and cookery.

Then along came those foodies from the north, fondly known as the Hairy Bikers, who proved to TV audiences that a motorbike ,when used in the discovery of new recipes, could indeed be a vital tool to wannabe chefs.

But there is more to the success of David Myers and Simon King than this. A lot of it, in my view, has to do with the wonderful camaraderie and humour they share in the kitchen.

I love their TV shows so it was with great interest that I went along to the Royal & Derngate in Northampton on Friday to watch them as part of the Larger Than Live tour. I wondered how exactly a cooking show would successfully translate to a big theatre stage. But it did.

Admittedly, there was perhaps a little bit less actual cooking than I was expecting. This was a theatre show after all and so there were a lot of staged sketches.

At one point David - dressed in gold hot pants – was wrapped in chains to show off his escapology skills. At another point the hairy duo took on two members of the audience in a strip version of the Wheel of Fortune; perhaps the pair wanted to show off their newly slim-line figures, following their recently produced dieting book and series.

Although I like the Bikers for their great recipes, I did appreciate these humorous scenes and found myself almost crying with laughter at some stages.

The show also includes some favourite snippets from their programmes - shown on a big screen – and these act as a segway to plenty of lively banter on subjects as varied as accidentally eating dog meat and the husbandry of prize cattle.

There is some audience participation in this show, as volunteers are also dragged up on stage for the enviable task of eating a meal cooked then and there by the Hairy Bikers.

I particularly enjoyed David’s funny analogies used while cooking, for example when he compared the frying of a piece of duck to a young Northampton lady going out in the sun without any cream on and coming back all blistered.

Although I do suspect that some may be disappointed in the show if they expect non-stop cooking all the way through, I was thoroughly entertained by the whole event, enjoying not only the food preparation, but also the dance, song, comedy, dressing up, escapology and all the other weird and wonderful ingredients which made the Hairy Bikers show a feast for the eyes.