Con­fronta­tional comic on tour

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

to find out for my­self what it’s re­ally like.” And he liked what he found.

“One thing you don’t nec­es­sar­ily see is how hard peo­ple work, ev­ery­one goes to act­ing classes and they all want to im­prove their craft.”

As well as act­ing he’s been busily in­volved in Time­wave, an in­ter­na­tional the­atre fes­ti­val that fuses art and tech­nol­ogy, due to take place next June.

“As an ac­tor you have to have some­thing else go­ing on for your own san­ity. Some­one once told me, ‘don’t ask what the in­dus­try can do for you, ask what you can do the for the in­dus­try’ and that’s kind of my phi­los­o­phy. It’s not about me sit­ting wait­ing for the phone to ring, it’s about me go­ing out and mak­ing things hap­pen.”

One Mon­key Don’t Stop No Show, West York­shire Play­house, Leeds, from Novem­ber 1 to 5. I GREW up with Lau­rel and Hardy. It was largely against my will. My brother was six years older and saw it as some­thing of a per­sonal mis­sion to make me love Way Out West the same way he did. Some­thing must have rubbed off be­cause, while I never quite un­der­stood what was so funny about a fat man get­ting his head caught in a win­dow, on see­ing Martin Barrass and An­dre Vin­cent in the duo’s bowler hats, mem­o­ries of bank hol­i­day dou­ble bills and a warm feel­ing re­turned.

In Tom Mc­grath’s play, Lau­rel and Hardy are in heaven’s wait­ing room, look­ing back at where they came from, their suc­cess and their friend­ship. Hap­pily there is also a step lad­der and a few buck­ets of paint to help them recre­ate some of their most fa­mous scenes.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to get even close to their dex­ter­ity on stage. Barrass and Vin­cent, who is a de­gree more con­vinc­ing as Ol­lie, give it a good stab and the play ben­e­fits from a much-needed in­jec­tion of dark­ness in the sec­ond half. Here, Lau­rel and Hardy move to­wards that fate­ful year of 1940 when they parted com­pany with the pro­ducer Hal Roach and tried to make it on their own. It didn’t work, the big stu­dios wanted new tal­ent. Lau­rel and Hardy were old, they were out of date and needed to be con­signed to his­tory.

There are bet­ter plays in­spired by the giants of com­edy, but as a trib­ute to one of the great­est dou­ble acts ever, this is a fit­ting one.

To Novem­ber 5. THERE were con­sid­er­ably fewer laughs among the au­di­ence of York The­atre Royal’s other pro­duc­tion. Black­bird is the story of one cou­ple’s re­la­tion­ship. He was lonely, she was in­fat­u­ated and for a while they thought they would be to­gether for ever.

So far, so nor­mal. Ex­cept here, the man was 40 and the wo­man not a wo­man at all, but a 12-year-old girl. Fast for­ward 15 years and Una has grown up and is ready to con­front Peter, the man who abused her.

He served his time in jail and has rein­vented him­self as Ray, a mid­dle man­ager in a fac­tory with an ap­par­ently set­tled homelife, but now he is forced to con­front his past.

Es­sen­tially a two-han­der, Char­lie Covell and Ge­orge Costi­gan are both en­tirely con­vinc­ing as the young wo­man un­able to es­cape her child­hood and the mid­dleaged man still con­vinced he did noth­ing wrong.

Black­bird is an un­com­fort­able watch. Una still har­bours feel­ings for the man her par­ents and the judge said had abused her and de­spite protes­ta­tions to the con­trary, Ray has not for­got­ten her ei­ther.

With all ac­tion tak­ing place in the lit­ter-strewn fac­tory staff room, Pi­lot The­atre’s di­rec­tor, Katie Pos­ner, cre­ates an at­mos­phere of claus­tro­pho­bia from which there is no es­cape for ei­ther the char­ac­ters of the au­di­ence.

Black­bird is not an easy night out, but as a chal­leng­ing piece of the­atre it more than de­liv­ers.

To Novem­ber 12. Tick­ets for both shows on 01904 01904 62356 or online at www.york­the­atreroyal.co.uk FOR the first time in more than two decades, co­me­dian and close-up ma­gi­cian Jerry Sad­owitz is em­bark­ing on a UK tour.

Born in New Jersey, but raised in Glas­gow, Sad­owitz, who first be­gan at­tract­ing at­ten­tion in the 1980s, is known for his con­fronta­tional, con­tro­ver­sial and of­ten di­vi­sive per­for­mances.

The show comes to York Grand Opera House on Novem­ber 1, 0844 499 9999; Leeds City Va­ri­eties on Novem­ber 4, 08456 441881; Hull Truck The­atre on Novem­ber 21, 01482 323638.

DOU­BLE ACT: Martin Barrass and An­dre Vin­cent recre­ate some of the magic mo­ments from the movie ca­reer of Lau­rel and Hardy.

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