...and This is My Friend Mr Laurel

Laurel and Hardy are widely considered to be the greatest comedy pairing of all time and this touching one-man show does a lot to display the deep affection and loyalty the two men felt for each other. The premise is simple and affecting - an elderly Stan Laurel is visiting Oliver Hardy after the latter suffers a stroke that, sadly, would prove to be fatal. Laurel regales Hardy, who is unable to speak and is represented in the play simply with an empty bed, with reminiscences of their past glories, tribulations and triumphs.

It's a touching set-up and a number of fulfilling and heartfelt moments are mined from the simple presence of a bare cot.

It's a touching set-up and a number of fulfilling and heartfelt moments are mined from the simple presence of a bare cot. Laurel regularly breaks off, to tell Hardy he'll be back at the golf range in no time, or to enquire if he needs anything. Jeffrey Holland as Laurel expertly creates this relationship with no physical assistance. Obviously there is no other actor there to accept or validate his affection but Holland manages to paint the picture of a loving friend using simply the words he's been given and the empty bed.

At times the script does veer a little bizarrely and the subjects Laurel brings up seem a little forced - and even quite inappropriate - considering the situation he finds himself in, regardless of the duo's relationship. Obviously, some leeway must be given for dramatic purpose, but the course of Laurel’s conversation could have been played with a little more tact. That being said, Laurel's topics do often hold decent and underplayed subtext. At one point he openly grieves for his dead father and reveals he “often look[s] out at the ocean, just to make sure it's still there;” it's clear his pining for the ubiquitous is as much for what he may lose soon in Hardy as it is for what he has already lost.

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Performances

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The Blurb

Jeffrey Holland (Hi-de-Hi, You Rang M'Lord) stars in this one-man show about friendship, memories and a couple of remarkable lives. Set in the bedroom of a sick Oliver Hardy the show takes place during Laurel's visit to the dying man. Recounting their past success as the comedy double act Laurel and Hardy, this is a humorous and touching look at one of the great cinematic partnerships of the last century. 'A tour de force for Jeffrey Holland' (Leicester Mercury). 'Simple, smart and sublimely performed' **** (BroadwayBaby.com).

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