On March 9th 1922 a premature baby close to the brink of death’s door was born into the world in Caerphilly, South Wales. Kept alive by his doting grandmother who fed him drops of brandy & condensed milk – it surprised everyone to find that when the baby grew up he would be 6ft4 with size 13 feet.
Everything about Tommy Cooper was a surprise including his fall into show business. After being shot in the war, he ended up joining the concert party and entertaining the troops. When one night saw Cooper trying to acquire a pith helmet from a member of the audience, by chance a waiter passed by wearing a fez, he grabbed it, put it on, and received rapturous laughter and the rest they say is history!
There isn’t much of a plot to this production and apart from a short scene showing Tommy backstage in his dressing room at the top of act 2, we don’t really get to see much of the Man behind the persona (a bitter alcoholic with many medical conditions), which is a shame as the little insight we do get to see, is strongly written and poignant and adds a needed sense of dramatic depth to the production, it’s a pity that John Fisher’s script doesn’t include more of these moments.
Clive Mantle as Tommy, nails the role, not only is he right in stature but executes the facial grimaces, physicalisations and voice in a pitch perfect impersonation of the man himself, a part it seems Mantle was born to perform. Carla Mendonca is used in the production as Tour assistant and Stage hand but one felt that the role was slightly superfluous to the construction of the piece.
Jus’ Like That is a pleasing night at the theatre, and one that will leave you with a smile on your face, but that in the end is down to the genius craftsmanship of the late Tommy Cooper’s material and comic delivery.
If you want a production that shows you more of the man, then this is not it. Even so. Jus’ Like That is a pleasing and gentle two hours of reminiscing of a bygone era, of family friendly comedy and slapstick that will make sure a smile of remembrance is firmly rooted on your face.