On Stage: Eric and Little Ern, Newport Riverfront

Morecambe and Wise were the funniest comedy double act on television during the 1960s and 70s and even though their partnership ended when Eric Morecambe died of a heart attack in 1984 their popularity has endured.

Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens stage presentation Eric and Little Ern (Newport Riverfront, October 8) is therefore most welcome. A tribute to Morecambe and Wise’s greatest comedy moments combined with dialogue of what Ernie might have said to Eric had he had the chance to see him one final time.

The opening scene, set in a private hospital room has an ailing Ernie visited by Eric (in Doctor Coat) and transformed back to Morecambe and Wise’s glory days. Classic scripts from the pens of Eddie Braben and Hills & Green were thrown into the mix including Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Eric’s throwaway comment when a police car siren wails past the hospital window, “He’s not going to sell a lot of Ice Creams going at that speed.”

Of course, it’s not just the dialogue that makes Eric and Little Ern brilliant, its Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens delivery and portrayal as the duo. Everything is there from the face slapping to the adjusting of Eric’s glasses via Des O Connor jokes and dance routines.

Sunshine and laughter certainly came into the Riverfront Theatre as the pair kitted out in trademark suits performed famous Eric and Ernie routines in the second half of the show.

Let’s hope it’s not too long before this brilliant show returns to Wales, as Eric Morecambe might have said, “Keep going you fools!”
  • A version of this review by Andy Howells was originally published within The South Wales Argus on October 10, 2014. 
  • For more information on Eric and Little Ern visit the official website.

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