BEING a comic is no joke, as Les Dawson once said.
And despite the highs, laughs and success of his career, that statement holds very true of the workaholic Eric Morecambe.
His dizzying journey to success and the rollercoaster 43 years spent working alongside Ernie Wise is being chronicled on stage at Durham’s Gala Theatre in a one-man show that is nothing short of brilliance.
Morecambe sees actor Bob Golding take on the phenomenal challenge of playing not only the man himself, but also 54 other characters – a feat which earned him a standing ovation on opening night.
While he shies away from a vocal impersonation of Eric Morecambe, his mannerisms and timing are a near-perfect replica. “He could almost be him,” I heard a voice say next to me in the audience.
I am generally as tough an audience as that of the Glasgow Empire, and the humour of Morecambe and Wise is something I have hitherto regarded as belonging to my grandmother’s generation.
Even so, I couldn’t help laughing out loud at points – I can’t remember the last time I did that at the theatre.
But, as I said, it wasn’t all laughs – and Golding played the more dramatic, serious and sadder moments as expertly as he resurrected the duo’s comic genius.
Stark scenes enveloped in throbbing light and sound effects saw the solo actor skilfully portray the experience of having a heart-attack. Morecambe suffered three, the third – just after a show – was fatal.
The comic’s life off-stage, his humble beginnings and relationship with Ernie Wise, his proud parents and his wife and children are also explored in the production.
I have to admit to entering the theatre unsure as to whether I would enjoy the production. To that, I can only say: “This boy’s a fool.”