Grove Park Theatre
until March 7
PLAYING a comedy icon and sustaining that performance
throughout a pretty testing one-man show can be no easy matter.
But Dan Pedley’s uncannily accurate and masterful portrayal
of Eric Morecambe, as the great man himself often said, is achieved without the
audience being able to see the join.
He takes on the enormous challenge as Wrexham’s Grove Park
Theatre stages Morecambe, a brilliant two-act presentation of the life and
times of the comic who became a national treasure, until March 7.
And it’s all there, from the voice, complete with authentic
Lancashire accent, to the mannerisms – the peering through the backcloth to
deliver a stupidly simple one-liner, the wobbling glasses which indicate that something
slighty risqué has been suggested, the catching of the imaginary sweet thrown
into the air in a paper bag and the mock lip curling at a Des O’Connor LP.
Pedley also looks eerily like the gangly, bespectacled hero who,
along with his partner Ernie Wise, joked their way onto the TV screens and into
the hearts of millions during their golden heyday in the seventies and early
The action takes us right back to the earliest days when,
still going by his real surname of Bartholomew, he was pushed by his mum into
entertaining at any local venue she could arrange for just a few bob a time.
We follow the lad through his fateful meeting with little
Ern – then already an established child star – during the Second World War, the
formation of the legendary double act, their domination of the variety circuit
and on to TV and film stardom.
Partner Ernie, by the way, is played by a cleverly-styled ventriloquist’s
dummy voiced from the wings by another accomplished performer, Huw Sayer, who
does all the men who pop up during the course of Eric’s story, deploying an
impressive array of accents from London Jewish to Scouse.
The women in the tale, including his formidable mum Sadie,
are all voiced from off-stage with equal skill by Sue Williams.
The massive success Eric and Ernie eventually enjoyed wasn’t
always an easy journey. And the lows are honestly portrayed.
The duo’s first TV venture, for instance, ended in
embarrassing critical failure and we see the long-term impression this made on
the deeply sensitive Eric.
We also see the heart trouble which constantly dogged this
workaholic and led to his premature death at the age of just 58 in 1984.
This is a brilliant interpretation of Tim Whitnall’s play,
deftly directed by Ray Ledsham which certainly brought us sunshine on a cold