It is seems to be the season for shows about comedy double acts. First we got Steptoe And Son in Murder At Oil Drum Lane; now we have arguably Britain’s greatest ever double act in Pete And Dud: Come Again, which opened last night at The Venue. It has been well documented that the relationship between Peter Cook and Dudley Moore was volatile to say the least. In Pete And Dud: Come Again, we get the diminutive Moore’s view on proceedings. Matthew Amer attended the first night…
It is 1982, and there’s no mistaking it. Various television technical staff stroll about on stage wearing tight white jeans, t-shirts emblazoned with early Michael Jackson prints, and big jumpers. The set itself features beautiful peach walls and is fitted out with beige swivel chairs. And the host of tonight’s chat show, Mr Tony Ferguson, bears a striking resemblance to a certain Irish stalwart of the Eurovision song contest.
Ferguson’s chat show, which comes complete with unbelievably cheesy gags, provides the framework for a retrospective of the Cook/Moore partnership. As Moore starts to chat about a certain period, so we are taken there and, as it is Moore’s flashback, it is tinted with his perspective as the put-upon member of the titter-inducing twosome.
Kevin Bishop (Moore) and Tom Goodman-Hill (Cook) do not give us impressions of Pete And Dud, but do take on the memorable mannerisms of the comedy duo. While Goodman-Hill’s Cook is both aloof and contemptuous, Bishop’s Moore seems eager to please and easy to corpse.
From their beginnings in Beyond The Fringe – with an Alan Bennett worried about digestives – through Not Only… But Also, and onto their more turbulent times on tour, the evolution of the partnership is recounted, along with some of Cook and Moore’s hilarious routines.
As is often the case, humour is laced with tragedy; Cook’s marriage disintegrates and he turns increasingly to alcohol and abusing Moore. When, at the start of the second half, Cook appears from the chat show’s audience, the look of horror and despair on the face of Moore says it all.
For someone who didn’t grow up with the pair’s comedy, I had the pleasure of not comparing the actors to the real thing. As a result, I might see what I can dig up on eBay and compare Pete And Dud to Kev and Tom.