Review: Ken Dodd at Whitley Bay Playhouse
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The Nicky Nocky Noo Happiness Show
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Sunday 9th August 2015
About four summers ago I read Dara O’Briain’s Tickling The English which covered his thoughts about the English as he toured around the theatres. A secondary theme were the stories about another performer who was also doing the circuit ahead of Dara – the living legend that is Ken Dodd. A man who rarely finish shows on the same day that he starts them. A performer in which you not only have to ask “have I got anything on that night?” but also “am I busy the next day?” I saw Ken Dodd in the 70s and I was determined to catch him again. The announcement that he was going to do a show with an early start was my chance to take the family along.
Am I exaggerating? Well, Saturday’s show had finished at 12:30am.
So with a fresh portion of Whitley Bay’s fish and chip inside us we sat down for five and a half hours entertainment. At 87 years old, he is probably Britain’s most experienced comic. The jokes kept coming and he is very funny. As an artist that is on permanent tour he has great comic timing.
He is accompanied by Terry Bell and Malcolm Garrett on keyboards and drums which enables him to break into song. This helps break up the show and the audience frequently joined in on his many memorable hits. Most often the musical interludes were brief medleys of songs rather than whole songs.
An octogenarian is allowed to have some senior moments and the first half had occasions when Ken lost his thread of thought. This wasn’t helped by his frequent deviations from the story he was telling resulting in him forgetting which plot he was on. After three hours we had an interval and Ken came back on with all guns blazing and he was much sharper in the second half as he proceeded to keep the audience in the palm of his talented hand for another couple of hours.
This is a classic variety show and Ken had a couple of breaks for a pair of acts to have their turn. In the first half was the hugely talented Andy Eastwood. A multi-instrumentalist, he was able to pick up the pace whilst playing the banjo, ukulele, violin and guitar on a variety of popular songs. Starting the second half was Sybie Jones who did a few medleys of popular songs and classical pieces on piano and then another couple on the flute. Sybie was not my cup of tea to be honest. The North East is full of incredibly talented musicians and I must have been spoilt as I found the performance well below par.
Towards the end Ken gave us treat with his ventriloquism as he worked with his puppet Dicky Mint. After a very long show, he was able to keep the audience laughing.
Ken will continue to perform around the country for the rest of the year and the details are on his website. He is next in the north east when he visits Darlington Civic theatre on 8th & 9th October. He is well worth seeing. His humour is never crude, though occasionally not pc either. He starts his second half set with a flask and a box of sandwiches and it is worth planning how you’ll keep going during the 5+ hours.
Ken Dodd. Hilarious. Unique. A legend.
This review was written by Stephen Oliver the North East Theatre Guide Preview from Jowheretogo PR (www.jowheretogo.com). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook www.facebook.com/Jowheretogo
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