The Last Laugh: End Of The Pier Offers Comedy With A Twist

End of the Pier, Park Theatre ★★★★☆

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The Last Laugh: End Of The Pier Offers Comedy With A Twist End of the Pier, Park Theatre 4
Photo: Simon Annand

Les Dennis, of Family Fortunes and Coronation Street fame, stars alongside Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners) in a new play that exposes the dark side of the comedy world. Dann Robins’ End of the Pier follows Michael (Harrison), a stand-up comedian, and his dad Bobby (Dennis), now retired from the comedy world, and their journeys through the peaks and troughs of a career in entertainment.

As the play unfolds in a not so bright and happy Blackpool, we get a glimpse into the trials and tribulations of constantly making people laugh, while strong undercurrents of racism threaten to bubble to the surface.

The play opens with a short stand-up sketch from Mike, a piece that, frankly, wouldn't look out of place on Live at the Apollo. We, the audience, are watching the comedian’s observational anecdotes just as Bobby, his father, watches at home on his own TV. This, and other frequent episodes of audience interaction blur the line between drama and comedy sketch, a clever touch which works very well throughout the play.

Photo: Simon Annand

Bobby is evidently jealous of his son’s increasing popularity and fame as a comedian, whilst he, retired, must watch the comedy world from afar.  To prove he really is still a funny guy, the majority of Bobby’s speech is made up of one-liners and cringy dad jokes, which, despite their questionable ‘funniness’ still manage to get a fair few laughs from the theatre’s audience. These constant one-liners, however, do begin to grate a bit as the play goes on, with Bobby’s relentless gags as tired and dated as the former-comic’s antique-filled home.

Harrison’s cracking performance is just beaten to first position by Nitin Ganatra’s stellar role as aspiring entertainer Mohammed, who, despite only appearing for the first time near the end of  the play, succeeds in having the audience in stitches, whilst providing serious food for thought, and giving an overturned view of racism and political correctness. With a heady mix of comedy and drama, tension and thought provocation, End of the Pier is as funny as Bobby thought he once was, and Mike hopes to be.

End of the Pier, Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP. Tickets from £18.50, until 11 August 2018.

Last Updated 19 July 2018