Edinburgh Festival `98: Cook returns in a `wistful' way

PLAY WISTY FOR ME PLEASANCE

"I WENT to a Nazi school. It's a little known fact that Hitler founded a number of schools in England. They've been dismantled since the war. All except Harrow." Anyone can imitate Peter Cook's E L Wisty, but few, I suspect, could speak with his voice as surely as Matthew Perret in Play Wisty for Me, a two-man show about Cook's life and work.

Every line of the play (by Perret and his fellow performer Jeremy Limb) is completely new, but it often sounds like undiscovered material. Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling lives again: "Women are like licorice allsorts. Some you chew, some you suck and some you say `Get out of my life you harridan and take your pine furniture with you'."

In addition to reincarnating Wisty, Streeb-Greebling, and Derek and Clive, the show attempts to set the record straight on a life that many persist in viewing as wasted.

When Cook died in 1995, after many years largely spent in a haze of drugs and alcohol, Stephen Fry made a furious attack on the idiots who had written reports on his life. Matthew Perret in the character of Streeb-Greebling makes a similar defence: "They say that I `haven't fulfilled my potential': I fulfilled my potential by the time I was 25!"

The show also addresses the conflict between Pete and Dud in a deliciously spiteful reworking of the one-legged Tarzan audition in which Pete wonders whether "a club-footed short-arse from Dagenham" is a suitable candidate for Hollywood stardom.

Each pastiche is used to tell us more about Cook himself. The piece is a little uneven - opening and closing with the collapse of Cook doesn't really work - but it doesn't outstay its welcome and individual gags are sometimes hilarious.

Ultimately, the play seems unable (or unwilling) to decide whether Cook's later years were a tragic waste or not. But that's fair enough. I can't decide either.

Louise Levene

At Pleasance to 31 August

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks