Bob Golding plays Morecambe at the Duchess Theatre this Christmas
1. Do you think Jimmy Carr's comic technique of quick one-liners is
a) new, unique, and a bit hard to follow
b) part of a wonderful, near-ancient music-hall heritage of fantastic comics that you love to see perform. If only he did a bit less of that swearing
2. Someone gives you a paper bag. Do you
a) recycle it
b) feel an irresistible urge to hold the bag open with one hand, look for a suitable audience, pull an imaginary ball from your pocket with the other hand, which you curve into the air, eyes wide, ready to perform that gag...
3. When it comes to theatre attendance, are you
a) always heading to BAC or Shunt to see the latest experimental theatre in London?
b) my dad?
Morecambe is the theatrical equivalent of nostalgia TV channels like G.O.L.D. There's little new or original here, but it does make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
"What do you think of it so far?" Eric asks, eyebrows waggling, Bob Golding's impersonation accurate to a tee. "Rubbish!" last night's audience (which included David Baddiel, Alistair McGowan, Dave Gorman, Matthew Kelly and Lionel Blair) chorused back with uniform glee.
Tim Whitnall's loving homage to the great British comic takes in Eric Morecambe's early life (as Eric Bartholomew, supported by a kindly, if pushy, mother), his first meeting with Ernie Wise (aged 15 and 16), their success in the Music Halls coupled with periods of unemployment and National Service. The play incorporates their early failure on TV (The People wrote "Definition of a TV set: the box they buried Morecambe and Wise in"), the heart attacks, the family life, the writers, and of course, the way they somehow came to achieve audience numbers of 28 million on Christmas Day in 1977. Can you imagine half the UK's population all doing the same thing at once today? Terrifying.
We could tell you about the glasses, the gags, the Ernie puppet, the songs, the accents, the wonderful way Bob Golding peoples the stage with a crowd of Morecambe's family, agents, fans, and other showbiz legends (Brucie for one) so this doesn't actually feel like a one-man show, but really, none of this matters. If you answered b) to all the above, chances are you've got your tickets already.