On this cold, drab, rainy day in Nottingham we could all do with a bit of cheering up. What some might call a bit of sunshine. Something to make us laugh or smile. Something to make us feel good inside. A perfect opportunity to bask in the rays of warmth and laughter, presents itself tonight at Nottingham Theatre Royal with An Evening of Eric & Ern.
The original comedy double act, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, honed their unique style of entertainment together over decades and became true favourites of the British public. Their Christmas special was a stay at home must see for most families and their comedy shows both live and on television were an utter delight to watch. When they passed away the nation lost two comedy gems who, over the years, had brought us so much merriment and sunshine.
It seems impossible that two other performers (no, not Mike and Bernie Winters) could now entertain us with the same Morecambe & Wise degrees of conviviality, same perfect timing, same hilarity and same deft daftness that the originals did.
Well, tonight ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Jonty Stephens as Eric Morecambe and Ian Ashpitel as Ernie Wise bring the house down with their brilliant representations of Eric & Ern. Their finely copied mannerisms, voices and timing are perfect in every way. For all intents and purposes they ‘are’ Eric & Ern for a couple of hours mirthful traffic on stage. Both Stephens and Ashpitel have that on and off stage camaraderie that gives their entertainment a very enjoyable and natural feel.
They even have a guest star (not Des O’Connor alas) in singer Rebecca Neale who somehow manages to keep a straight face whilst the clowns mess about behind her. Neale is an accomplished singer and her vocal talents and charming presence give the evening even further credibility in terms of Variety.
The Nottingham Theatre Royal audience are in comedy heaven tonight and applaud like crazy on hearing many a familiar punch line from Eric & Ern. There is oodles of fun connection with the punters in the stalls and circle and director Daniel Clarkson creates a perfectly balanced show featuring great comedy, dance and songs and, no expense spared, invisible things dropping audibly into paper bags. An Evening Of Eric & Ern is just the Winter tonic we need and this show gives us the chance to enjoy the irrepressible duo once again and remember how much Summer sunshine they brought to our lives. And still do.
Review written for Nottingham Post.
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