Saturday, 25 June 2016

Hancock's Half Hour- A One Man Show

To celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Hancock's Half Hour, James Hurn performs two classic episodes and voices all the characters himself...

James Hurn's talent as an impressionist will be well known to anyone that has enjoyed John Culshaw's Radio, turned TV and back to Radio, comedy show DeadRingers. Hurn has attracted an impressive following with his jaw droppingly accurate impressions of Sid James and Kenneth Williams but to see both characters featured in a Radio Play format that very much harks back to Hancock's glory days excited me. As any Round The Horn or Goon fans will be glad to tell you, there is the world of difference between a recital or reading and a Radio Stage play. Filmed in front of an live audience and often with live performed sound effects, the productions were performed with the exact same skill of more traditional theatre. Just because the actors had scripts in hand never detracted from the brilliance and effectiveness of the performance. It was this golden era of comedy that Hurn is attempting to play welcome tribute to with his one man show.

Performed as originally scripted and with the full and loving blessing of writers, Galton and Simpson, which should tell you everything you need to know about the quality of the production. Hurn has done his research and from the start of the evenings performance has the audience exactly where he wants them. Hurn's clever use of prologue,which has the departed spirits of Hancock and James deciding to lend a hand to the proceedings, ensures that the performance has a new and polished sheen to it. The two Hancock scripts selected are classics and still, all these years later, have a wonderful and charming humour about them. They just don't write comedy like this anymore and it was ushering a new era of comedy in, back in the day. Hurn's performance is nothing short of electric with both his voice and mannerisms uncannily realistic, it was like the spirits of the late and talented cast had been resurrected for one more epic show.

Hurn also manages to pull of a major achievement as his Hattie Jacques impression is astounding and thrilled the entire audience. Performing to a full house at the Lion and Unicorn ensured that the atmosphere amplified Hurn's clear passion for his material. I have been a long time fan of Hancock et al and this is the closest I am ever going to get to enjoying a life performance. Whether you are a fan or a new comer this is a delight and deserves a much longer run. At at time when shows of yesteryear are very much in vogue, I wouldn't at all surprised to see Hurn take this show on the  road. Hurn has a wonderful ability to guide the audiences, lovingly, back into the past and to a time when humour was more gently but still just as funny. Hancock's Half Hour represents a beautiful and fondly remembered time in many peoples memories and it is truly wonderful to see this classic piece of entertainment being enjoyed by a new audience. This is a fitting tribute to creative brilliance who many performers today credit as being what inspired them to enter the same industry. The inclusion of a coat stand which is clothed with Hancock's actors, now iconic, coats and peaked hat actually brought a tear to my eye. As Hurn himself alludes to with his self penned introduction, if we remember and still enjoy the comedy that was released many years before it is possible that their talent and gift to us is never forgotten and can be celebrated for decades to come.

You can enjoy more of James Hurn''s work on his You Tube page here. Hancock's Half Hour has one more show today at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre.

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