Wednesday, 06 July 2022

Almost as good as originals

IT was a calm evening but those of us in the theatre were being battered by a comedic hurricane.

The Play What I Wrote is a non-stop express of laughter, slapstick and, most of all, loving homage to Morecambe and Wise.

Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck take on the great double act without ever calling themselves that but everything about them is a throwback to the platinum years of the Seventies when Eric and Ernie could command 26 million viewers for their Christmas TV specials.

Time moves on and younger people don’t have those memories, so this is a way of ensuring they survive. The one-liners, slapstick, situations, interactions and unforgettable humour were delivered with relish and frenzied physical energy by the main two, ably helped by Mitesh Soni who did nearly all the other roles save one — that of celebrity guest.

This show is a revival and started out more than 20 years ago: every performance has a mystery guest. When I first saw it the guest was the late Sir Roger Moore, this time it was the actor Keith Allen. Herdman and Tuck ripped into him mercilessly at every opportunity using Eric and Ernie’s tried and tested technique of improvised humiliation at a fluffed line or misstep. Allen had plenty of those and we’d have been disappointed if he hadn’t.

Some of it was lifted directly from Eddie Braben’s scripts but mostly this was a play about a play what Thom Tuck had written and which was destined for the West End.

Describing it as a laugh-a-minute would be wrong, a laugh every 10 seconds would be closer. The intensity never lets up but the play is delivered so expertly with perfect timing that nothing races past the audience.

Just the tonic if you’re down, any doctor would prescribe it as even temporary relief: The Play What I Wrote brings you sunshine and has Morecambe and Wise stamped through it like a stick of seaside rock.

Mike Rowbottom

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