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Review: The Play What I Wrote at the Cambridge Arts Theatre



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Having been revived last year - 80 years after Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise first performed together on stage - this affectionate and critically acclaimed celebration of the much-loved comedy duo, which first premiered in 2001, had its opening night at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on Monday, February 21.

Dennis Herdman, Mitesh Soni and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dennis Herdman, Mitesh Soni and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The play also looks at the nature of comedy duos in general - in this case the pairing of ‘straight man’ Thom (Thom Tuck) and ‘funny man’ Dennis (Dennis Herdman). In the story, Thom has written a play set in the French Revolution called A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple.

Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Dennis, on the other hand, wants to continue with their double act, in the belief that if they perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise, Thom’s confidence will be restored and the duo will go on. But first Dennis needs to persuade a guest star to appear in the play what Thom wrote.

A mystery guest star subsequently appears at every performance and some of those to feature in the past include Sir Roger Moore, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Joanna Lumley, Daniel Radcliffe, Kylie Minogue, Nigel Havers, and Tom Hiddleston.

Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Tonight’s special guest was Sue Holderness, probably best known as Marlene from Only Fools and Horses. She did a good job in a role that required quite a lot of physical work and much hilarity was drawn from the various misinterpretations of her surname.

Also, as far as comical moments were concerned, there were some wonderful bits of slapstick - particularly in the first half - and many groan-inducing puns, as well as some lovely nods to Eric and Ernie which left one with a warm feeling of nostalgia.

Thom and Dennis were perfectly cast as the ‘straight man’ and the ‘funny man’ respectively with Thom’s impersonation of Eric Morecambe and Dennis’ dancing and exaggerated physical movements in general being particular highlights.

Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck in The Play What I Wrote. Picture: Manuel Harlan
The Play What I Wrote
The Play What I Wrote

The pair were ably supported by Mitesh Soni in a number of roles and did well to keep the energy level up, although there were moments when the proceedings did start to drag a little and not all of the comedy hit the right notes. Still, this was a highly entertaining piece overall and one I’m glad I finally got to see.

The Play What I Wrote is on at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday (February 26). Visit cambridgeartstheatre.com.

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