What a pleasure to have Craig Urbani back on a South African stage. Urbani has spent the past few years entertaining the privileged theatre goers of London’s West End.
Now, he stars in the one-man comedy retrospective, Morecambe, at the Studio Theatre at a Monte Casino. (Soapie fans can also soon catch him on the Generations-breakaway, Ashes-to-Ashes, on etv).
Eric Morecambe was and is considered one of Britain’s greatest comedians. As one half of the legendary and beloved duo, Morecambe and Wise (with Ernie Wise), he worked his way up from telling jokes as a schoolboy, to partaking in variety shows, getting his first gigs in theatres, several successful TV series, even feature films.
I confess I’d never heard of Morecambe and Wise and was concerned I’d miss the insider jokes. But unlike the other retrospective comedy show currently on at Pieter Toerien theatre, Pythonesque, prior knowledge isn’t necessary to enjoy the show. Morecambe and Wise’s straightforward sketches and two-liners are simple and effective.
Morecambe is a funny, witty but moving look at a man who had an innate, frantic, sometimes unhealthy drive, to elicit a laugh. The show is not just a collection of Morecambe and Wise’s most famous sketches, it also examines the psyche of the comedian: the anxieties, insecurities and addiction to approval.
The play was written by Tim Whitnall and won a prestigious Olivier award in 2010 for Best Entertainment.
Urbani has the energy needed to jump from scene to scene while on stage, playing multiple characters (including Wise as a puppet), delivering fast-moving gags while still having the subtlety to portray Morecambe’s lesser known side, building up to his death at the age of 58.
Morecambe is on at Pieter Toerien Studio Theatre at Monte Casino from 29 April – 7 Jane.