it comes to comic genius I consider myself fortunate to have seen
the late, great Tommy Cooper live on stage. If I have any regrets
it is that I never had the chance to see those two Kings of comedy,
Morecombe and Wise, from such close quarters. But for two laughter-laden
hours at the Hippodrome I could have been in their presence.
even in my exhausted, rib-aching after-show state, I was still able
to appreciate - and comprehend - the wonderful comic timing and
sheer idiotic humour that was Eric and Ern's trademark throughout
their career together on stage and TV.
than just a tribute
But "The Play What I Wrote" is far more than just a tribute
show to Britain's finest-ever comedy double act; it is, quite simply,
marvellously funny, entertaining, and what's more fast-paced.
Play What I Wrote
all brilliantly carried off by the hard-working Joseph Alessi and
Ben Keaton (as the famous duo) and Toby Sedgwick, as the man of
many guises, among them that of Eric and Ern's famous wanna-be harmonica
player, Arthur Tolcher.
three of them combine to recreate a golden era of Television Light
Entertainment - and how the audience loved it!
then audiences on both sides of the Atlantic have been doing just
that for some years now ever since this inspired show took to the
West End and Broadway stages.
It's had two sell-out runs in London where it received two prestigious
Olivier Awards - including Best New Comedy - and a Tony nomination
in New York. It's not hard to see why. It's now 10 weeks into it's
second 13-week UK tour, and still as fresh as a daisy.
it's the story of a dissolving double act booked to do a West End
show. The only problem is that while Keaton assumes they're going
to perform one of his 72 unproduced plays, Alessi knows the idea
really is to stage a Morecombe and Wise tribute.
Mystery celebrity guests
What follows is comic deception involving Sedgwick in various comic
roles, including that of Darryl Hannah - introduced as "half
woman, half kipper!"
French - The Play What I Wrote
fun intensifies in the second act with the much anticipated arrival
of the "mystery celebrity guest" ready for a starring
role in Keaton's "brilliant new play"
A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple - need I say more? (What
do you think of it so far - rubbish! You see, it's contagious!)
Fiennes, Sir Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor, Dawn French, and Roger
Moore are among the luminaries to have "guested" in recent
times; our mystery guest wasn't a disappointment either - Nigel
Havers, taking time off from his current West End play, to share
in the shenanigans.
Indeed his entrance almost brought the show to a stop. He was certainly
a popular choice for opening night in Birmingham. Four other mystery
guests are booked in for it's Hippodrome run - more than any other
venue on this tour.
The real stars, though, are the irrepressible trio of Keaton, Alessi
and Sedgwick. It's not surprising to read in the programme notes
that they all appeared together as the Marx brothers in Animal Crackers
in the West End. Crackers is certainly a great way of describing
They've all got the boundless energy and brilliant comic timing
necessary for such demanding roles. The audience loved it - and,
so it seemed, so did they.
an exhausting evening of nostalgia, and humour and, what's more
it certainly brought me "a little sunshine