Cook And Moore Play Is A Bit Of A Dud

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 45 months ago
Cook And Moore Play Is A Bit Of A Dud ★★☆☆☆ 2

Jonathan Hansler as Peter Cook (left) and Kev Orkian as Dudley Moore.

Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

"You don't burn in heaven," said Peter Cook, correcting Dudley Moore, during one notorious outing of their egregious alter egos Derek and Clive. "We will," replied Moore. The premise of Goodbye: The (After) Life of Cook & Moore doesn't so much involve the comedy genii frittering away in heaven, so much as pootering around in limbo, waiting for their number to be called by The Man Upstairs.

The premise is smart — when Dud (a sharply-observed performance by Kev Orkian) snuffs it in 2002 (his death upstaged by the Queen Mum's), he's reunited with already-dead comedy partner Pete (Jonathan Hansler, who is strangely more reminiscent of Cook's old pal John Cleese). Dud begrudgingly accepts he's not quite through the pearly gates yet, realising that in order to be in with a chance of doing so, he and the exasperatingly difficult Cook must settle their differences.

Cook and Moore are the only serious contenders to Morecambe and Wise's double act throne, and recapturing their genius takes no small dose of gumption. It's not simply reprising the best of their back catalogue, and Hansler and Orkian have acknowledged this. Unfortunately, Goodbye features too much repetition (a lewd incident involving Dud and a record store booth is alluded to at least five times), the end-to-end staging means you feel like you're at a weird tennis match, and the reconciliation/redemption plot all gets a bit much.

And while some of the Dagenham Dialogues-era material is genuinely funny, it's nothing short of awkward watching Hansler and Orkian tackle the monstrous Derek and Clive. While, with the original foul-mouthed outpourings, you know you shouldn't be laughing, but can't help it — this interpretation ends up working the other way round.

Ironically, it's the accomplished cameos of Clive Greenwood  (he inhabits the role of various dead comedians including Peter Sellers, Frankie Howerd and Leonard Rossiter) that receive the warmest applause of the night. Hansler and Orkian haven't done The Worst Job, but there's way more than One Laugh Too Few.

Goodbye: The (After) Life of Cook & Moore is on at the Museum of Comedy, Bloomsbury Way WC1A 2SA, until 28 February. Tickets £21.50-£15 plus booking fee. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 06 February 2015