Thursday, July 7

The Play What I Wrote – The Rep, Birmingham

This homage to comedy geniuses Morecambe and Wise comes to Birmingham for the festive season, what better place to stage the 20th anniversary revival production.

If you are expecting Eric and Ernie look-a-likes or the story of their lives you will need to think again. Instead, what you get is like a compilation of hits and the essence of the humour that so may people loved.

Thom and Dennis are a comedy double act, but Thom has decided he has had enough of not being funny one so turns his hand to play writing. In contrast, Dennis thinks their future together can be saved if they perform a Morecambe & Wise show. What follows is Dennis using every method he can think of to persuade his friend to be his straight man again.

There are laughs a plenty from the jokes to facial expressions and the physical humour. The lines are delivered with perfect timing and emphasised in just the right way to ensure the subtle innuendo hits right home. While the actors bare very little resemblance to Morecambe and Wise there are moments – a look, a gesture – where you can see them clearly. Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck manage to strike the balance between tribute and their own performance. They take the source material and make it their own but with enough of a nod. Their performances match the guest star in the second half and they shine just a brightly.

The first half, with its bare stage look, flashback and multiple additional characters (all played with panache by Mitesh Soni, his Scarlett Johansson is worth seeing) is the home to the scene setting and story line as well as a large dose of Morecambe & Wise humour. The second half is mainly concerned with the organising and performing of Thom’s latest play including securing a famous guest star. Every night the guest star is a surprise, with references to famous actors scattered throughout the first half you are left guessing. On press night we were treated to an appearance by Hollywood star Tom Hiddleston. The audience were suitably surprised and very appreciative as he stepped on stage in a theatrical robe.

As to be expected Tom Hiddleston was the butt of many jokes, especially around the pronunciation of his name. In something like this you can’t take yourself too seriously and Hiddleston threw himself into the role, even joining in with a dance routine. His performance was superb and delighted the audience – even those who didn’t recognise him.

This not to be missed production is pure joy and brings you sunshine on a wet December night. It is guaranteed to raise your spirits and not only for those who came as fans of Eric and Ernie. What better time to celebrate these British Comedy Greats and make your Christmas special?

The Play What I Wrote continues at The Rep, Birmingham until 1st January 2022.

Reviewer: Annette Nuttall

Reviewed: 6th December 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★