[4_stars ]

Cast: Les Dennis

Audiences are in for a delight as they are transported back to a working men’s club in 1997 to watch legendary Liverpool comedian Jackie Hamilton, or Jigsy as he is better known. The Royal Court Theatre could not be a more perfect venue to recreate this setting; with its unique set up of theatre seats with tables,  allowing both audience and Jigsy to relax and enjoy a refreshing pint throughout the show.

The show starts with Jigsy out of sight performing at the bingo hall; his gags going down a treat. As their game starts, he comes through ‘backstage’, only to entertain another audience. Immediately he is easy to warm, as he lets everyone in on the practical joke he has played on the bingo goers by removing a few of the numbers. This sets the mood for the rest of the show; laughter was consistent throughout the night, with applause at the most amusing gags. Even if references to a bygone era were not familiar, Les Dennis’ comic timing ensured people were chuckling along anyway. The show demonstrated an intimate familiarity with Liverpool, which was obviously an instant hit.

Alongside the impersonations of other comics and regaling the audiences with the ‘art’ of being sick on stage, a slightly darker theme of death came through with references to recently deceased Princess Diana, and Tommy Cooper dying on stage. However, recalling the death of his Uncle Mickey is the one point in the show that a silence falls in the room as is drawn into the sadness of the situation.

Jigsy pauses, puts his hand on his head, momentarily forgetting why he was indulging us with such a sad story. What follows sums up the essence of comedy. He recalls how his Uncle Mickey was making jokes until the moment he died, reminding us there is humour to be found in the saddest situations – you only have to look for it. Jigsy easily reaches the conclusion that comedy is cruel because life itself is cruel. After almost dying on stage, again with perfect timing, he reveals the bingo balls he previously stole and retreats back to the bingo hall world.

Les Dennis gave an outstanding performance, receiving a standing ovation and enthusiastic cheers. Clearly, there was no better entertainer to take on this role; a truly comical night.