Leicester Comedy Festival review: Laurel and Hardy Cabaret at the Guildhall

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Review by Sofia Luis-Hobbs

Laurel and Hardy are undoubtedly a classic comedy duo but they’re an acquired taste in this day and age.

And if I didn’t quite acquire it, it certainly wasn’t for want of trying. I grew up watching them on DVD with my dad. It wasn’t my cup of tea but I sat and watched nonetheless, as he was reduced to hysterics beside me.

It’s been years since I’ve seen any of their films, but when the chance presented itself to go and see a cabaret version of their act I couldn’t help but smile at the thought – not necessarily at the show but at the memories it sparked.

The show began with the immortal theme tune, triggering giggles around the room and I knew then that the next 120 minutes would be a trip down memory lane for everyone in there.

Well, pretty much everyone. The cabaret had drawn a mixed crowd to the Great Hall of the Guildhall, including several younger children and a toddler or two who cooed during some inopportune moments – but Tony Carpenter and Philip Hutchinson had it covered. Quick on their feet, they found ways to incorporate these noises off into their performance, particularly whenever Laurel needed a talking to – which, of course, was often.

The duo really are the full package when it comes to impersonating the iconic pair. Not only did they embody the characters perfectly, they bear an uncanny physical resemblance of the original Laurel and Hardy.

Carpenter, who plays Laurel, mimics the famous head wiggle, the outbursts of crying and sheer naivety throughout the performance to a tee. Hutchinson, as Hardy, gets to dominate, which of course brings with it the famous tie grab alongside a flustered laugh and pursed lips.

The cabaret includes an array of the duo’s classic sketches, from their earlier works to their final ones, as well as some sketches that were never released.

Performing famous routines from Swiss Miss, Men O’ War and Sons of the Desert, Carpenter and Hutchinson pull it out of the bag – and no, I’m not talking about the random things Carpenter seems to pull out of his bag to irritate his onstage partner.

Yet they also brought the act up to date, with a song performed to a photo of Susan Boyle. It was unconventional but a stroke of genius, alongside other tricks they had up their sleeves to get younger audiences involved.

Fun-filled and family friendly, the cabaret is a true homage to the duo, which Laurel and Hardy fans will be sure to adore.

Comments

  1. Sofia, thank you so much for your lovely review of our little show!

    Like

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