The Lad Himself-The Gilded Balloon-1.30


This comedy drama written by Roy Smiles, directed by Roy Hodson and featuring a strong performance by Mark Brailsford as the legendary comic Tony Hancock is, for the most part, perfectly pitched. For an audience of a certain age it will conjure up memories of a bygone era and as this is what made up most of the audience on the day I attended, it matched the mood of the show.

The drama centres on Hancock arriving in limbo after he has committed suicide in Sydney after battling depression and alcoholism. He arrives not knowing whether he is going to Heaven or Hell and within the first five minutes has made a reference to being a blood donor, immediately drawing attention to his most famous sketch. What follows is basically an hour of Hancock’s finest –if on several occasions slightly dated- material.

During his wait he encounters a cleaner –a slightly over the top Caroline Burns-, a Kenneth Williams type character called Burt –also slightly overplayed to the point of parody rather than homage- and a paedophilic vicar. Interesting devices include introducing the idea that God may be of female gender giving rise to the comment that there is no way such a deity could merely be ‘a bit of skirt’. This merely shows the rampant chauvinism which was not only common place in this era but also the acceptance of it. There are some other highly amusing exchanges but the focus and attention never really deviates from Brailsford’s performance which is always outstanding.

If the production does have a fault it is that I fear younger audiences may find it all rather dated and corny. The over the top performances often stray into panto terrain and could maybe do with being toned down a little. Saying that, the day I went the audience that were there loved it and laughed uproariously throughout.


    • The Yorkshire Critic
    • August 18th, 2012

    Agreed with some of what you say!
    Must say We loved it and did laugh uproariously!!!

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