This reviewer will start this review by admitting that she is old enough to remember Pete and Dud in later episodes of Not Only But Also so it was with both trepidation and anticipation that this production was watched.
Produced at London’s Museum of Comedy in February 2015 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Peter Cook’s death, the play takes an irreverent and rather surreal look at what might have happened to Pete and Dud in the afterlife. Peter Cook died aged 57, on the 9th January 1995 from a gastrointestinal haemorrhage, most likely due to his years of excessive drinking. Some seven years later on the 27th March 2002, Dudley Moore followed his one time comedy partner to the afterlife after spending fourteen years battling the effects of progressive supranuclear palsy. He was 66.
In Goodbye The (After) Life of Cook and Moore Dud arrives in what he thinks must be heaven, only to find Peter Cook there, waiting for him in a bar. Cook is dressed as his comedy alter ego Clive from their 70s shows. Soon after his arrival Dud finds his death has been upstaged by the death of the Queen Mother on the 30th March 2002, and on the TV in the bar (showing CBB) he watches the elderly lady ascend into heaven. He suddenly realises they are not in heaven and Pete explains they are in the Comedy Sector of Limbo and can’t be processed either up or down until they have sorted out their differences.
The play recounts bits of both of their lives and how Cook hated Moore’s Hollywood career and how Moore felt about aspects of Cook’s life. Their musings, discussions and arguments (often in their Derek and Clive characters which is a huge part of their animosity) are occasionally interrupted by other famous comedy performers, often in their most famous character (Sellers as Clouseau and Rossiter as Rigsby, although Howerd is at least himself). Eventually things are sorted enough that they are processed for heaven or hell. Dud arrives and finds Pete there too, but they are finally more accepting of each other and spend the next million years performing together.
Written by two of the performers Clive Greenwood and Jonathan Hansler and directed by Vadim Jean, the play does well with its characterisations of the well known satirists and some of their colleagues. Clive Greenwood plays all the other characters apart from Pete and Dud; some more successfully than others with his Rossiter/Rigsby being spot on while his Frankie Howerd was not. Jonathan Hansler takes on the erratic genius of Peter Cook and is mostly very effective while Kev Orkian’s Dudley Moore is the best of the three.
Unfortunately, the Museum of Comedy is not set up for the recording of shows in its tiny performance space. The audio production is awful with erratic levels thoughout and the video production similarly leaves a lot to be desired. While the two screen approach works some of the time, when the characters are out among the audience it is often too dark to appreciate what is happening and the varying audio levels only emphasise the problems. However if you’re a fan of Pete and Dud, or at least remember them fondly, then there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half than watching this play but it isn’t the show to introduce the comedy of Pete and Dud to a new audience.
Reviewer: Helen Jones
Reviewed: 16th July 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★