Theatre review by Julia Pattison: Hancock’s Half Hour at Grand Opera House, York

Directed by Tim Astley, the play was a most welcome trip down memory lane.
Directed by Tim Astley, the play was a most welcome trip down memory lane.

Play: Hancock’s Half Hour

Venue: Grand Opera House, York

Review by: Julia Pattison

Those of us of a certain age will remember Galton and Simpson’s Hancock’s Half Hour with great affection; it was one of the first programmes in the genre we now know as sitcom.

I was too young to remember the original broadcasts, but my father was a big fan and we spent many a companionable Saturday afternoon laughing together as we listened to his collection of Hancock’s Half Hour LP: my favourite episode being The Blood Donor.

Apollo Theatre Company have taken three of the original scripts, and presented them as if the audience was attending the recording of the radio comedy show.

Clive Greenwood played a very authentic BBC announcer and we all settled down to enjoy the presentation of the first script, Hancock In The Police (1957). James Hurn took a while to warm up in the role of Hancock, whereas Colin Elmer was an absolute natural playing Kenneth Williams, with great comic timing and delivery.

Ben Craze not only looked like Sid James, but sounded like him too, and was wonderful as the “Del Boy” of the era, getting a lot of laughs.

Laura Crowhurst was spot on as Hattie Jaques, as was Tom Capper playing Bill Kerr, capturing the actor’s mocking Australian speech style.

The Americans Hit Town (1958) was the second script, and then to all our delight, after the interval there was a brief performed excerpt from The Blood Donor, the iconic scene where Hancock meets Dr MacGregor (Clive Greenwood).

James Hurn came into his own then, and became Hancock, relaxing, and interacting most successfully with the audience who lapped it all up and applauded loudly at the end of the scene.

The company finished off with the third script, The Wild Man Of The Woods (1956), which was an absolute gem of a piece, brilliantly delivered by the cast.

Directed by Tim Astley, this was a most welcome trip down memory lane.