Morecambe, Assembly @ The Mound, Edinburgh
Thursday 27 August 2009
Among all the celebrity solo turns on the fringe this year, Bob Golding's Eric Morecambe seems to have caught on strongest. But I find Tim Whitnalls's play toothless and over-sentimental. Morecambe, who died in 1984 aged 58, is still much loved, but there's far too much loose chat here, and not enough hardcore material.
The one really good idea is to have Eric's comic partner Ernie Wise represented by a ventriloquist's dummy. But little is made of this apart from the first surprise when he comes out. We do get, though, a brisk summary of Eric's showbiz history, on the halls with Tessie O'Shea and Arthur Tolchard, meeting Ernie on the bill in Swansea, changing his name from Bartholomew to Morecambe, braving the Glasgow Empire, failing in America.
Golding does a pretty good impression, though it's not in the Mike Yarwood class, and he looks more like Vic Reeves than Eric. He's also a bit young and callow. Eric always seemed older, more gnarled and flyblown by experience.
You finally realise you can't really have a solo show about a double act. Eric without Ernie is Laurel without Hardy, Torvill without Dean; the individualism of one is dependent on the closeness of the other, and Morecambe's special quality of abrasive cussedness does not prosper with nothing, or no one, to rub up against.
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