Opened 15 October 2008, Closed 8 November 2008 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane Theatre in London
French and Saunders in London for a strictly limited four week season direct from a sell-out national tour
Lively, fast, upbeat, celebratory and fun... French and Saunders are back with their best in London's West End! Since February, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders - Britain's most celebrated female comedians - have played to over 100,000 people around the UK with their sidesplitting comedy show and now, for a strictly limited season, they are bringing the show to London's Drury Lane Theatre Royal. Jennifer Saunders said: "We're so excited about bringing the show to the West End and giving the audience a great night out packed full of laughs. We've blended the best of our old material with the new and crammed it all into a couple of hours of great fun. It's going back to basics for us and it's what we do best." Dawn French added, "I Can't wait. Bring it on! There's nothing like a live audience to change the colour of your pants!" French and Saunders Still Alive in London features the best of French and Saunders' characters and sketches from the three decades that they have been making people laugh, along with with brand new material written by the first ladies of comedy. Dawn French has previously appeared in the West End in Carmel Morgan's comedy Smaller opposite Alison Moyet at the Lyric Theatre (2006) and in Geraldine Aron's one-woman comedy My Brilliant Divorce at the Apollo Theatre (2003).
Jennifer Saunders explained the reason for them 'retiring' from the television comedy business: "You can't do the shows we used to do. They are not making the kind of comedy we used to do. It's all that damned reality stuff that's killed it, and political correctness - that's the biggest killer of comedy. What they want now is populist programmes. We came through at a time when the BBC did everything in-house so everything was available - costumes, wigs, special effects. Now everything is put out to tender so it all costs an amazing amount. We've been stopped from doing lots of sketches we wanted to do. The budgets for the more ambitious stuff just aren't there. Really, that's the reason we've decided to stop. We don't want it to look like a slightly sub version of what we used to do."
"French and Saunders are calling time on their double act - and they're doing it with all the energy, ingenuity and wonky editing skills that have marked out their 30 years together. Half the time, this farewell West End show is pure pleasure. French and Saunders have never been an act with depth to them, but with surface like this, who needs it?... They're still a terrific team. So it's a shame that, after an irresistible first 40 minutes, we also see their dark side - their tendency to wibble on a bit, bantering way beyond the joke's natural life span. A beautifully acted routine about two teenagers spending Christmas at boarding school makes an acute, bittersweet point - and then just keeps repeating it... As ever, a lack of quality control keeps them good rather than great. But as the duo finish their time together by whipping out their willies - well, their fat men's rubber willies - fans can rest assured that they're leaving the stage with their indignity intact." The Times
"The redoubtable Dawn French (the fat, jolly one) and Jennifer Saunders (the pretty, blonde, sarcastic one) are calling it a day after 30 years together, partly to avoid ending up sad, old troupers and, equally, because the wretched BBC will not pay for their kind of intelligent comedy and now prefer dumbed down populist (and unfunny) trash. But, to be honest, they are also making their exit at about the right time. Judging by some of their material on the opening night of their West End run (after a countrywide tour), they are facing the final curtain not a moment too soon... Their belligerent bickering is often very funny, particularly when comparing their individual successes... They will be missed. But it is disappointing that their final lap of honour is so uneven." The Daily Express
French and Saunders in London at the Drury Lane Theatre Royal opened on 15 October 2008 and closed on 8 November 2008