Branagh Directs Right Size's Eric & Ernie ShowDate: 17 August 2001
Kenneth Branagh is to direct the acclaimed comic duo The Right Size (pictured) in a new work inspired by Morecambe and Wise. The show, entitled The Play What I Wrote, opens at Liverpool's Everyman Playhouse on 27 September 2001, with a later West End run looking likely.
The Play What I Wrote was one of the many catchphrases used by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in their double act. The new production portrays two comedians who are approached to perform a tribute show to Morecambe and Wise, and each evening is expected to feature a special celebrity guest. Over 20 stars have apparently committed to appearing on a regular basis, although names are being closely guarded so far.
Olivier-award winners The Right Size are comprised of Sean Foley and Hamish McColl. Their recent production, Bewilderness, co-starred Freddie Jones and played at the Lyric Hammersmith in May 2001. The duo's earlier acclaimed comedy Do You Come Here Often transferred from Edinburgh to the West End, and won the 1999 Olivier for Best Entertainment. It also met with considerable success playing at PS122 Off-Broadway.
Kenneth Branagh will be making a stage comeback next year in the Sheffield Crucible's version of Richard III. His last stage work was the RSC's 1992 production of Hamlet, and his theatre career has embraced Another Country, Look Back In Anger and Golden Girls. A major Shakespeare interpreter on screen, Branagh's film acting and directing offerings include Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost.
Morecambe and Wise remain arguably the most popular, and influential, British comedy act of all time. Combining quirky humour with theatrical camp and scrupulous precision, their series ran for many years on the BBC. A special show recorded for Christmas 1977 pulled in an audience of over 27 million - a figure which remains unsurpassed by any programme since or before. A later transfer to the ITV network was less successful, and in May 1984 Eric Morecambe died of a heart attack shortly after performing in a charity concert.
- by Gareth Thompson