Review: Morecambe

As this genial one-man show whistles happily into town, “the man what brought us sunshine” is able to bring a little sunshine to us once more. A biographic telling of the life of one half of the double act Morecambe and Wise, reveals a wide-eyed and somewhat complicated character who fought through to the very end.

John Eric Bartholomew born in 1926, was better known by his stage name of Eric Morecambe. The name, formed from his hometown, the seaside resort of Morecambe in Lancashire, was taken up after forming a double act with Ernie Wise. Following their meeting at an audition with Jack Hylton in 1939, the pair developed a close friendship, later becoming
one of the country’s most loved comedy partnerships. A turbulent route from the bottom of the billing to the top, saw them best remembered for the television series, The Morecambe & Wise Show, of which one Christmas episode received over 28 million viewings. The play follows Eric’s journey from the Northern variety circuit, through the death of his mother, the birth of his two children and adoption of another, his two heart attacks, until his third heart attack and resulting death in 1984.

The script is cleverly constructed and glittered with famous one- liners and gags that the audience joyously recalls. The play has some hilarious moments, with second half of the double act Ernie affectionately represented as a miniature dummy. But as a gentleman in a seat nearby snored softly, I understood that this show lacked the excitement and energy of one delivered by Morecambe and Wise themselves. Bob Golding’s portrait of Morecambe is characteristic and carefully observed with real finesse to his stage persona, however, as we look through the window to an innocent and somewhat confused soul, he lacks personality, with the warmth felt for the character bought only by our fondness of Eric himself. Julia Bunce’s design is simplistic yet maybe a little too so and although the music complimented well at times, it occasionally returned the feel that the show isn’t too far from its Edinburgh roots. As a one-man show, the difficulty of delivering the narrative lost the connection of the
character and made it feel a little dragged out, though all praise to Bob Golding for the daunting task of carrying this show.

Although I had a distinct feeling that I was probably the youngest person in the audience, I nonetheless have a great fondness for the comedy duo. However, this show effervesces with nostalgia and is no doubt attractive only to a niche audience, as some laugh much harder than others.  This is a charming and delightful telling of the life of a comedian that was indeed no joke. It certainly hit all of the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order…

Runs until 13th March 2010.

Written on behalf of The Public Reviews www.thepublicreviews.com.

Original article available at http://www.thepublicreviews.com/morecambe-liverpool-playhouse/.

Copyright © The Public Reviews & theatreJunki 2010.

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