April 10th, 2008

Frankie Howerd- Rather You Than Me

David Walliams is a funny man in his own right and his reproduction of Frankie Howerd's comic schtick was well observed and well practised- and yet somehow his impersonation of Howerd in full flight was deathly. Oh my God, we laughed at this? We must have been puddled. Great comics are unique. Once they're gone, they're gone- and not even the most accurate mimicry will bring them back.

Otherwise this was a sweet play about two damaged men in love. Walliams was muted, apparently weighed down by the responsibilities of impersonation- and Rafe Spall as Howerd's lover/chauffeur/manager was lively and engaging. At times I wished the two actors had swapped roles.

Why were all the comics of that generation such wrecks? Is it something to do with the war? With the aftermath of war? With the profound social changes of the 50s and 60s? A theory is hovering- just out of reach- and I haven't been able to net it.