Jus' Like That!
March 17 - 25
The opening scene was spectacular: 50s
swing music echoed from the speakers as the shimmering curtain changed
from silver to gold, to reveal a glitzy set and six tap-dancing
girls clad in suspenders and white tails.
Into this cabaret, Tommy Cooper appeared balancing a stack of china
Cooper was loved by TV audiences
wobbled down the steps, plates crashing at his feet until the final
fall sent the rest of the plates spilling into the audience.
(paper) plates actually landed on front row heads, mine included.
so began the laughter.
of the one-liner, the bum joke that your dad mimics at Christmas
and the magic trick that doesnít go to plan, Cooper is a legend
Jerome Flynn, as Cooper, has
the magician's acute sense of timing.
mannerisms allow you to believe that this is the real thing - that
wide smile, the splay of the hands and the ability to laugh, on
stage, at his own jokes.
In the first half the author, John Fisher, takes the audience from
a rapid succession of one-liners and magical mishaps to Cooperís
dressing room, and the darker, autobiographical side of the comedianís
the director, Simon Callow, slows the pace of the play as the comedian
takes to smoking cheroots and drinking hard liquor while reflecting
on his loves, insecurities and flaws.
this point, to my mind, it feels too slow and although the audience
is provoked to think about the sadness and pitfalls of an entertainerís
life, you long to be engaged and your spirits lifted.
second half is devoted solely to Cooperís stand-up performance.
after gag and failed magic tricks provoke a unison of giggles and
jaw-dropping suspense from the onlookers.
me, amid the laughter, people comment on the props they love - the
flower that grows with a tincture of water or the white gate with
no purpose except to walk through. Flynn is superb throughout.
The crescendo of hilarity reaches its peak with a recital of New
Year's Eve, a poem involving a soldier, a sailor, a fireman and
a tramp, which Cooper acts out aided solely by hats.
reflection, the low point in the play, that of Cooperís off-stage
more troubled life, helps to emphasise his comic genius.
This play is a tour de force. I was stunned.
you are young, let a big man in a fez make you laugh; and if you
are older, revisit some timeless entertainment of your youth.
Time: 19:30 (20:00 on Friday)
and Sat mats 14:30
here for Oxford