During the 1970s and early 80s one of the TV highlights of the year was the Morecambe and Wise Christmas show, watched some years by over 25 million viewers - half the UK population. Their comedy double act is legendary. One of the popular sketches in the TV show featured the staging of Ernie's own play "what he wrote" starring a celebrity or two - Andre Previn, Glenda Jackson and a BBC newsreaders. This is the starting point of The Play What I Wrote, in which Greg Haiste, of comic double act, Haiste and Cryer, is a budding playwright. Like Ernie, Greg naively believes he has talent as a writer and is determined to stage his French Revolution play, "A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple."
You've heard of the play within a play - a Shakespearian concept. What we have here is a play, performed within a tribute show about Morecambe and Wise, which is part of Greg and Andrew's own variety act. Don't expect an impersonation of Morecambe and Wise, it's more subtle than that. There are brief sketches, characterisations, song and dance numbers, familiar jokes, the double bed scene and the close on/off stage relationship between the two comedians who have worked together for over 15 years. It's not only an affectionate portrait of Morecambe and Wise, but of the history of variety theatre - the classic concept of double acts on stage and TV. As Greg questions whether he or Andrew is the funny man in the duo, they realise that it's neither of them. "We are funny" says Andrew. And like M&W, that's why people laugh, as one plays off the other, comedian and stooge.
This is far from a two man show. Working his socks off, is Anthony Hoggard, who plays a whole cast of characters by himself - their friend Arthur (who wants to play his harmonica in memory of his mum), the theatre impresario David Pugh and both Justin and Colin, the "How Not to Decorate" TV interior designers. This is possibly the funniest sketch I have seen in years. Impossible to describe, this is inimitable, unique and brilliantly performed. Which leads me to the celebrity stars who perform in the show each night. Yes, Justin and Colin, the outrageously camp and glamorous stars, do make an appearance taking part as French Revolution prisoners in Greg's play. They don't need to act in character but virtually play themselves in silly costumes, brilliantly funny as their own beloved double act.
If you enjoy good old variety acts and pantomime, and can't wait until Christmas, get yourself down to the King's Theatre, Edinburgh for this crisply scripted, sharply acted, hilarious show. "I laughed and I laughed " (Telegraph) "A tear-inducing show" (The Guardian) "The audiences weep with laughter".(The Observer). It's absolutely true, I laughed and I laughed.
(c) Vivien Devlin, 27 March, 2007 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com