Still Game: The Final Farewell, SSE Hydro, Glasgow ***
After 22 years, nine series and two previous Hydro extravaganzas, Jack, Victor and their pals wave goodbye properly with a performance that's overflowing with nostalgia: for Still Game's theatrical origins; its roguish development through sketch show Chewin' The Fat; and escapades from best-loved episodes.
Stranding Jack and Victor up a Munro in that last television episode, Hemphill and Kiernan gave themselves a mountain to climb about where to take the story next.
Would this show be a reminisce? Would the core cast be communicating from beyond the grave? Revealing anything without spoilers is virtually impossible.
But the pair are to be applauded for throwing caution to the wind, embracing the predicament they've placed themselves in as gamely as they've made the Hydro a second home over the last five years.
Still Game was a cosy, affectionate sitcom. Yet it had occasional fantastical moments. And there was devilment in the banter. Even so, who could have foreseen it delving into metaphysics, featuring nods to The Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol, or a cameo from one of Britain's most notorious paedophiles?
Perhaps the writers have been affected by expectation though, as there's far too many panto-esque, front of curtain bits of business before the story properly begins.
Still, Kiernan's turn as Chewin' The Fat's dreadful thespian Ronald Villiers, auditioning for a role in the production, is the first of many enjoyable references to that show, which peak with some dirty pub singalongs.
The uninitiated might struggle to comprehend why a guest star is being quite so filthy in a divine bit of casting. But there's logic to it. And the sitcom's supporting grotesques, like Methadone Mick, Stevie the Bookie and Bruce Morton as Sheathing the undertaker especially, are given gainful employment in driving the plot.
Burdened by its legacy, The Final Farewell is never as narratively or tonally certain as its two stage predecessors.
Jack and Victor's personal journeys are a perfunctorily tied-up afterthought.
There's a crude, over-reliance on the priapic concerning “Boabby” the Barman. Winston gets the best lines, including a cheeky aside about the new BBC Scotland channel; Penny-pinching Tam, the best musical number amidst some disappointing competition; and Isa and Navid's unresolved sexual tension, returning from the 2017 production, is once again Still Game at its best – warm, waggish and evergreen. It deserves this fond remembrance. Jay Richardson