Review: The Play What I Wrote at York Theatre Royal

On tour at York Theatre Royal this week is a West End success: The play what I wrote. Naturally, we know this must be about Morecambe and Wise, mustn’t we?

By Angie Millard

But it is more than that.  It explores the nature of comedy, the unexpected, the irreverent, the outrageous and the familiar. By stringing together a series of familiar sketches with non-sequential one liners, the show creates the essence of comedy.

Thom has written a play about The French Revolution entitled A Tight Squeeze for The Scarlet Pimple, but Dennis, his partner, feels that they should perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise.  This formula leads to an hilarious journey through quick fire exchanges and terrible jokes as they grope their way to a successful product.

In the mix, is a guest appearance of a celebrity performer, a running gag supplied by the extremely talented Mitesh Soni and fabulous props, worthy of any pantomime.

The second half features Thom’s play which the action has led us towards. Described by The Observer as ‘an event where audiences weep with laughter’, I went along with high expectations. Certainly, there are some very funny sequences and the audience were much amused on the night that I went. The surprise guest is a great idea and provides the link to Morcambe and Wise’s famous TV shows. There are ingenious sequences such as the extending arms on the wrack or playing the xylophone on dangling skeletons; no comic device is ignored. Thom plays a perfect straight man to Dennis’s rubber-limbed manic funny man.

At a time when the comic partnership has almost disappeared, it is interesting to analyse comedy from this perspective. But most of all, I began to see how the material worked. From a slow beginning, it was stripped back to the crazy, illogical logic of what makes us laugh and the audience loved it.

The play what I wrote is being performed at York Theatre Royal from 27 June to 2 July 2022. The Director is Sean Foley. It is written by Hamish McColl, Sean Foley and Eric Braben. The Designer is Alice Power. Lighting Design is by Tim Mitchelle, and Sound Design by Clive Meldrum. The Choreographer is Ian West. The original songs are by Gary Yerson, and the Musical Director is Steve Parry.

Cast

Dennis: Dennis Herdman

Thom: Thom Tuck

Arthur and Others: Mitesh Soni