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One Night: Stan

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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It's 1954 and Stan Laurel is backstage at the Palace Theatre in Plymouth, where he's just been forced to cancel the final dates of a tour with long-term partner Oliver Hardy due to the latter's sudden illness (he would die a year later).

Based on true events, this one-man show from Miles Gallant is a thoroughly researched insight into the life of a comedy legend, even if, in dramatic terms, it lacks a certain spark.

Gallant's portrayal of Laurel, who was born and raised in the North of England even though most assumed he was American, is affectionate and detailed, as he takes us from his early days in music hall (including a spell understudying Charlie Chaplin) to international superstardom..

Other characters make appearances, including Laurel's father (also an entertainer) and his famous corpulent co-star, as the story unfolds in a somewhat pedestrian fashion, with hints of alcohol abuse and a wandering eye for women left unexplored.

Perhaps it's this sanitised, reverential approach that prevents One Night: Stan being anything more than pencil sketch of a clearly troubled comic genius. Either way, it's nevertheless fascinating to learn more about the man beneath the bowler hat, and I would certainly recommend this for vintage comedy fans.


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