Skip to main content

Review of Eric And Little Ern at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Eric And Little Ern is one of those shows that you leave with glorious nostalgic feeling, especially for anyone who grew up sitting down to watch those annual Christmas shows (which is potentially everyone as their star is always with us). I am technically not quite old enough to really remember seeing a live first screening of the show, but for me growing up in the eighties and nineties, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were always there, although  I think I enjoyed The Two Ronnies better at the time. Eric and Ernie's shows maybe have dated better though and maintain that BBC2 slot on regular occasions.

Ian Ashpitel (Ernie Wise) and Jonty Stephens (Eric Morecambe) bring those two stars back to vivid life with their superb performances in Eric And Little Ern. What they have created (as indeed these two are both creators and performers) is a sweet little play of two halves. The first, a loving and incredibly moving at times act of part biography and part endless joke factory from Morecambe. The second, a short but sweet full act in front of the classic big curtain.

The first act is clearly the best as it brings something new which the often seen performance of the second half cannot. Wise is in hospital towards the end of his life and is visited by his doctor. However this is no ordinary doctor reading his notes and prodding at the medical equipment, this is Morecambe returned in full body and frantic movement for his lifelong friends final days. The whole of the act is generally a long and moving conversation between the two, a reminiscing of old times. Interspersed with this is Morecambe doing his trademark quipping and classic jokes or indeed a near full sketch from the archives. The Grieg Piano Concerto sketch is faithfully replayed with Stephens getting Morecambe's classic gangly, lolloping procession to the piano to a tee. This scene like many works the set by Simon Scullion well, with placement of props and triggers for jokes placed around the stage depicting Wise's hospital room.

Ashpitel and Stephens are superb throughout with their depictions of mannerisms honed to near perfection, particularly Stephens, who by default has the most characteristics to depict. The first act coupled with the second full comedy routine have the jukebox greatest hits on display from face slapping, singing and dancing and the old paper bag trick. They even manage to involve the audience successfully at times in true comedy style.

The audience itself on the afternoon I attended was sadly not full (although the evening was near sold out), but it was fascinating to see such a demographic of people. Its true that the majority of the audience was beyond the 50 mark (I myself had my father in tow, who had seen the real thing in Northampton back in the sixties), but there was also a good number of us younger people as well, and this told the tail that Morecambe and Wise are, and always will be timeless.

Eric And Little Ern is truly a loving tribute, performed in style and leaves a warm glow to the heart and I would heartily recommend to all.

««««

Performance viewed: Saturday 8th November, 2014 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal).

Eric And Little Ern is currently on tour until 2nd December, 2014 and details of venues can be found at their website at http://www.ericandlittleern.com/



Popular posts from this blog

Review of Our Lady Of Kibeho at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The premise of Our Lady of Kibeho by Katori Hall is one that on paper would seriously not appeal to many peoples perhaps, mixing religion and the background of the looming catastrophe of the genocide against the Tutsi, it maybe alienates plenty of people immediately. However, this is a great shame, as there is much to genuinely admire, and perhaps more surprisingly enjoy of this latest production from Made in Northampton and director James Dacre.

Hall's story of this "true event" opens with a confrontation between Sister Evangelique (Michelle Asante) and Father Tuyishime (Ery Nzaramba) over the fact that pupil Alphonsine Mumureke (Gabrielle Brooks) claims to have seen the Virgin Mary. Few believe her at first, ridicule her and bully both her and anyone who supports her, however, soon another sees visions of the Virgin Mary, and then another, and soon this small little college in Kibeho, Rwanda is very much a focal point of attention.

Our Lady of Kibeho perhaps takes two …

Review of The Full Monty at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The 1997 film The Full Monty is one of the best regarded of relatively recent British films, due to it being both a warm and emotionally strong tale, solid comedy and a wealth of acting talent, and it's no surprise that its very theme has spawned an immensely successful touring stage version. It literally overflows with the opportunity to be performed in front of a, probably mostly female, audience, well, the final scene does, in any case. However, what of the rest, and how about for a male audience member? So to speak. Well, it was time to find out.

The first thing that is apparent from The Full Monty stage show, is how faithful this is to the film. Much of the show is what you have seen if you have seen the film, but translated cleverly to the stage, it feels just that little more real and gritty as well. It opens with a nicely staged scene of darkness and flashes of a torch as Gaz (Gary Lucy), his son Nathan (Fraser Kelly) and Dave (Kai Owen) break into their former factory wo…

Review of Grease by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The last two years have been an interesting path for the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at the Derngate. In 2014 their presentation of South Pacific was a remarkable feat which stood up so well in comparison with the soon to be professional staged Oklahoma! Then 2015 they took what might have been quite a gamble with a much less known title Sister Act, despite it being a huge film hit of the past, the musical was somewhat less known. It was a gamble that unquestionably paid off as the theatre was filled and it remains not just the very best amateur production of a musical I have seen, but superior in so many ways to professional touring shows.

So maybe, just maybe, 2016's decision to present Grease as their big show has got to be a disappointment. I myself up to seeing this show hadn't seen Grease in a theatre live, but a lot of people have and I have spoken to many who were not going to this simply because they are, in my own contortion of their thoughts Greased out. How…