A standing ovation on a glorious summer evening at Lytham Hall was a tribute to the power of the writing by David Slattery-Christy and a simply outstanding performance by Steve Royle.
Set in Camberwell asylum at the end of Leno’s life the play explores the mental confusion of the Victorian Music Hall star Dan Leno, now unable distinguish his stage persona from his real self.
Steve Royle displays shows complete mastery of every type of physical and verbal comedy, brilliantly portraying Leno as extrovert, vulnerable, irascible and child-like all at the same time
The music hall turns are the highlights, particularly the Beefeater sketch where Royle exploited the open-air setting to dragoon two of the audience on a walk through the picnickers.
Andy Cooke, Nicole Violet and Lou Steggals as his doctor, wife and nurse help to explore and explain Leno’s mental muddle, whilst Neil Rowland as his somewhat spiky brother is excellent.
The pantomime scene at the end is a pleasing enhancement since the play’s premiere at last year’s Lytham Festival and the presence of Peter Kay, incognito amongst the audience, suggested that this funny yet poignant show is something very special. Next stop, London’s West End next year.