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'Fez-tastic' tribute to Stan and Ollie at Royal Court
THERE are so many impeccably delivered lines here that you feel you really are watching pompous sometimes bewildered Oliver Hardy and the happy - but hapless - Stan Laurel.
Recreations from comedy history which received roars of approval and knowing nods from members of the audience wearing fez hats - as featured in the 1933 film classic, Sons of the Desert.
Versatile Roy Brandon (Stan) and Michael Starke (Ollie) are famous faces from stage and tv.
Brandon is a past master of performing Stan's trademark nervous tics and bouts of child-like weeping - it's a role he was made to play.
And Mr Starke captures those amazing stares to the audience that Ollie made his own - a device that inspired Ricky Gervais to create The Office all those decades on.
Stan and Ollie inspired so many comedians and still do.
So, this sparkling World Premiere production is a welcome, hilarious homage to the fab two.
This is a celebration of slapstick and comic timing at its best.
Royal Court director Ken Alexander has pulled off a real coup going to painstaking levels to recapture the magic of the two men through their stage and film routines and associate musical director Howard Gray weaves his skills on recapturing those wonderful melodies and songs on designer Mark Walters art deco set which is superbly inventive.
I personally would have paid to see the rehearsals to this show as the twosome of Roy and Michael have great on stage chemistry.
Bowler hats are lifted on and off while Stan fiddles with his hair and Ollie twiddlies his tie.
The production is indeed a show of two great halfs.
The first act pays tribute to post vaudeville / music hall meets variety shows in a fantasy line-up.
We meet some colourful characters; compere Frank Feller (Jonathan Markwood) sounding like Eric Morecambe; Cheeky Chester - (Matt Connor) as the saucy Swinging Sweep
A highlight is a sketch starring Stan and Ollie as hopelessly inept painters and decorators - a reminder of what uk audiences would have enjoyed on their tours.
They last played Liverpool Empire on October 26, 1953.
The run of this show ends on OCTOBER 26, 2013 - 60 years on.
After the interval, Act two is a recreation of the hour-long film Sons of The Desert featuring two domineering wives.
Stan and Ollie want to attend a masonic convention in Chicago.
Their spouses, played by Penelope Woodman and Lori Haley Fox, are formidable sparring partners for our daft duo.
It leads to all manner of confusion - creative comedy at its best.
And there are the songs ... such as Honolulu Babe and the unforgettable The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
It has bucket loads of fun - some involving wallpaper paste - all lovingly put together in a timless theatrical tribute to two comedy geniuses.
And they were each as gifted as the other - there was no straight man in this double act each contributed innocence and affection gaining mass appeal and a love from fans across the world.
It is entertaining from start to endearingly funny finish.
The madness and mayhem of Stan and Ollie lives on.
Try and catch this piece of pure escapism.
Fez-tastic... classic comedy 9 /10
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