Oh Hello*** (Assembly Hall, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 25, 2015 in Theatre


Are there any tragic clowns left who have not been given the fringe theatre monologue treatment? As told here, Charles Hawtrey’s greatest achievement was gaining third billing in the Carry On… films and, looked back on more than 25 years after his death, maybe he was never better than third division amongst comedy actors. Dave Ainsworth’s play focusses on the Carry On… years, when Hawtrey was probably never sufficiently sober to to take on prominent roles and all he could do was bitch about producers under-valuing and under-paying him. After all, he protests, he once performed with Will Hay and was directed by Alfred Hitchcock (in Sabotage). Apart from gin, Hawtrey’s other passion was for young boys and he was known for flaunting his homosexuality shamelessly in days when that was not quite the thing to do. His clashes with Kenneth Williams provide some of the best anecdotes related in the play. Jamie Rees is less gaunt than Hawtrey is remembered, but he captures the sadness of a man fading rapidly into drunken oblivion, deluding himself as to his stature as an actor yet still seeking the recognition he believes he deserves.

Performance date: 18 August 2015

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