Morecambe, Duchess Theatre, London
Wednesday 16 December 2009
Bob Golding's uncanny impersonation in this one-man show is a great feat of empathy as well as mimicry. He knows how Eric Morecambe's dodgy heart ticked as well as the tics of style that were his trademark. So he's able to transmit a sense of the psychological and professional background to some of the comic mannerisms – the who-put-the-glue-in-the-ginger-beer, goofy stalling-for-time grin (perfected whenever he had to out-stare the camera during cock-ups in the early days of television) or the compulsive specs-waggling playfulness that had him joking with everyone from the one-armed commissionaire at Broadcasting House (joshingly refused a complimentary ticket to a recording because he wouldn't be able to clap) to Luton Town FC (who, if he were to have a coronary on the stands, would at least be able to pick up something before the end of the season). He thought he was being a pal to everyone, but the feeling grows here that being a constant caution was a way of fending off real intimacy. For that, you have occasionally to let the other person dictate the terms of the encounter.
The show worked best for me whenever it most acknowledged the darkness that complicates the somewhat coercive "Bring Me Sunshine", happy-campers jollity of Morecambe. The sheer pressure of being the record-breaking Christmas Day hit on an annual basis must have made Eric think that turkeys had it easier at that time of year. Regular medicinal swigs of whisky merely make worse the condition they are supposed to medicate. There's a superb sequence at the end where Golding's Eric, in Velcro heaven, transforms himself into the parodic, Platonic ideal of the topper-and-tails song-and-dance man, whilst crooning a song that makes the obsessive desire to appease the god of Light Entertainment sound like one of more self-destructive forms of false idolatry.
If I were Mrs Wise, I would rather object to the fact that my husband had been reduced to a glove puppet: for a start, it goes against the grain of everything that is said about him. He was a necessity; he was generosity itself; and when Eddie Braben started to write their scripts at the height of their fame, he achieved the unique parity of being of equal status as the groan-inducing partner who thinks he's funny and pivotal and isn't, to hilarious effect.
To 17 January (0844 579 1940)
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 2 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 3 Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
- 4 Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabaab militants kill 28 non-Muslims who failed to recite Koran
- 5 Largest ever study into the gay gene 'erodes the notion that sexual orientation is a choice'
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Beyoncé '7/11' music video: Star bounces on bed in low-fi homage to viral video
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'