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Preview: Wisdom of a Fool at South Shields Customs House



Wisdom of a Fool
South Shields Customs House
Sunday 11th February 2018

A tribute to the genius of Norman Wisdom is coming to The Customs House.

Jack Lane as Norman Wisdom
in Wisdom of a Fool.
Photo: Andy Hollingworth Archive
Wisdom of a Fool charts the early life of the comedy icon and his rise to fame, with Jack Lane playing the man behind the Gump costume. The play has received the backing of the late Wisdom’s family, with his children, Nicholas and Jacqueline, donating one of his suits for use in the show.

Star of stage and screen during the 1950s, Wisdom played to packed houses across the UK, with his trademark manic slapstick routine catapulting him to stardom. Over the years, he perfected an act that would go on to shape his unique style – a cloth cap, ill-fitting suit and classic underdog character. Success on the silver screen, including the hit song ‘Don’t Laugh at Me’, sealed his fame, but, as ever, fame came at a price.

Jack Lane as Norman Wisdom in Wisdom of a Fool.
Photo: Andy Hollingworth Archive
Portraying 30 characters in this tour de force performance, Jack Lane will take you on an emotional rollercoaster when Wisdom of a Fool arrives at The Customs House on Sunday 11th February at 7pm.

Nicholas Wisdom said: “If the harder you work the luckier you become, then Jack Lane deserves all the luck in the world for his moving portrayal of the life of my father.  His attention to detail would have surely impressed him and it was a delight to see Jack perform in one of his original suits. That for me was a poignant part of the show.”

Jacqueline Wisdom added: “Dad was once called ‘this little genius called Wisdom’ and this truly lives on in Jack Lane.  His performance was compelling and the characters he played dovetailed together so cleverly. Wearing dad’s Gump suit, which no one else has ever done, brought dad back to life.  It was incredibly emotional for me and I know that dad would be very flattered and proud that Jack’s performances rightfully earned him standing ovations every night.”

Lane began his theatrical career in 2003, starting backstage as a resident technician before honing his craft with leading touring companies in a variety of roles for countless plays, musicals and pantomimes.  He founded Engine Shed Theatre Company in 2010 and went on to adapt three episodes and two Christmas specials of the classic BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son, taking on the role of Albert Steptoe.

Wisdom of a Fool opened to critical acclaim in 2015 and embarked on a UK tour in 2016/17.

Ray Spencer, Executive Director of The Customs House, said: “When this show came through to us, we knew we had to book it.  It has garnered a legion of fans, including Wisdom’s family, national reviewers and a string of industry professionals, including Vera star Brenda Blethyn.”

Tickets for Wisdom of a Fool are priced from £17 and available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at

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