Stan and Ollie reborn at the Wolsey

Laurel and Hardy, New Wolsey Theatre, until May 3.ONE of the greatest comedy duos ever to perform, Laurel and Hardy left a cinematic legacy that will never be forgotten.

Laurel and Hardy, New Wolsey Theatre, until May 3.

ONE of the greatest comedy duos ever to perform, Laurel and Hardy left a cinematic legacy that will never be forgotten.

From their slapstick routines, physical comedy and multitude of films, the pair built a reputation as two of the funniest men to ever work together.

Their brand of comedy has been much imitated over the years and the male double-act format has gone on to become one of the most successful formulas in comedy.

But besides their silver screen personas of a larger than life, bossy but bumbling Oliver Hardy and the meek, tearful sidekick Stan Laurel, how much do we really know about the pair?

Was Oliver Hardy really the brains behind the outfit? Was Stan Laurel really so frightened all the time?

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A new production looking at the behind the screen lives of the duo is currently on stage at the New Wolsey Theatre.

Called Laurel and Hardy, the show sees the pair looking back over their lives and careers from beyond the grave. The cast of two - Christian Patterson as Oliver Hardy and Ben Fox as Stan Laurel - play a multitude of characters, including parents, film directors and studio bosses, while pianist Greg Palmer stays on stage throughout and brings us the famous Laurel and Hardy music amongst other gems.

Everything from their experiences growing up, to their first meeting, the highs and lows of the film industry and their marriages is documented. There was plenty of material for writer Tom McGrath to choose from - Laurel and Hardy appeared in more than 100 films together, from the silent movies in the 1920s, through the Great Depression and the arrival of the 'talkies', the pair worked together right up to 1952, when their disastrous final outing in Atoll K ended their careers.

Both Patterson and Fox to look their parts and recreate the pair's mannerisms cleverly - and we were reminded that Oliver Hardy perfected the frustrated cry of 'oh!' long before Homer Simpson got in on the act.

Done well - and they are - the famous slapstick routines are still very funny, even though these days there's nothing new about a ladder being dropped on someone's foot.

During serious moments, this show needs more pace and some scenes were a little slow, especially compared to the slick, fast comedy routines.

Overall, this is an interesting show and tells the serious story and hard slog that went into making Laurel and Hardy the success they were, a side of the story you wouldn't normally hear but one well worth listening to.


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