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The Play What I Wrote

14th February 2022 - 19th February 2022


The sensationally funny homage to Morecambe and Wise…

When The Play What I Wrote opened in London’s West End, originally directed by Kenneth Branagh, every single review was a rave, every show a sell-out and it won every major theatre award. The Sunday Times called it “a triumph” and The Observer said “audiences weep with laughter”. Now a brand new production directed by The Rep’s Artistic Director Sean Foley and co-written by Hamish McColl, Sean Foley and, of course, Eddie Braben will be bringing sunshine to Malvern.

‘Thom’ has written a play, an epic set in the French Revolution called ‘A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple’. ‘Dennis’, on the other hand, wants to continue with their double act. He believes that if they perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise, Thom’s confidence will be restored and the double act will go on. But first Dennis needs to persuade a guest star to appear in the play what Thom wrote…

With a mystery guest star at every performance, this “recklessly, tear-inducingly funny show” (The Guardian) is “a loving celebration of comic genius which is itself touched with comic genius” (Daily Telegraph).

Previous mystery guest stars have included Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Joanna Lumley, Daniel Radcliffe, Kylie Minogue, Nigel Havers, Jerry Hall, Sir Ian McKellen, Dawn French and Sting.  Who will you see when you see The Play What I Wrote?



14th February 2022
19th February 2022
Event Categories:


Festival Theatre
Grange Road
Malvern, WR14 3HB


Mon Eve & Wed Mat: £34.50, £32.50, £28.50, £24.50, £21.50
Tues – Thurs Eves & Sat Mat: £36.50, £34.50, £30.50, £26.50 & £23.50
Fri & Sat Eves: £38.50, £36.50, £32.50, £28.50 & £25.50
Members discounts apply
£2 concessions for Over 60s/Unwaged
Under 26s £8.96
Prices include 12% booking fee
Show Times:
Monday 14th to Saturday 19th February
Evenings at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm

Event Reviews

  • The View From The Stalls

    From a time when generations of families would sit around the tv together at Christmas, one show in particular was hotly anticipated and that was the Morecombe & Wise Christmas special, which garnered an audience of over 28 million. An essential part of the show, indeed of any M&W show, was Ernie's attempt to stage his own play in which he would inevitably cast a major (if unwilling) star. And so The Play What I Wrote was born.

    Move on a few decades and a stage show with the same name saw the light of day in Liverpool, directed by none other than Kenneth Branagh (now Sir, of course). Two years later it launched on Broadway to what we can only assume was a rather bemused audience but one which nonetheless saw it nominated for a Tony amongst others.

    The writer and performer of the original show, Sean Foley, is the director in its latest tour where Dennis Herdman plays Dennis (aka Eric) and Thom Tuck as Thom (aka Ernie) with Mitesh Soni as (almost) everybody else. Almost, because each venue features its own secret special guest…

    Whilst some knowledge of the teamwork between Eric and Ernie is necessary to get the full benefit of the show, it nonetheless works even if you don't know what the pair got up to. This is not the Morecombe & Wise show per se, but a pair of similar writers whose only way to get Thom's obviously appalling creation set in the French Revolution called 'A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple' staged is to con the impresario (actually a plumber) into thinking they will be doing the M&W show and in doing so, giving him the chance to play his mouth organ in remembrance of his mother. Unfortunately, Thom's chosen star guest, Sir Ian McKellan, fails to turn up (he is out having a cocktail, then stuck in the dressing room then performing in panto in Bolton…) so a replacement has to be found - by consulting the telephone directory.

    The play eventually goes ahead with its guest star and here all the classic elements of M&W come together beautifully. The mistreatment of the guest, who also wants to rewrite the script, the physical elements, the tortuous misnaming of the guest, the gold curtain, the double bed, the musical numbers and the ice cream van - all very familiar to people of a certain age!

    The fact that the script for the second half has to be rewritten each week to take into account the particular guest taking part is quite something in itself as it must entail a lot of work and relearning of the script, particularly for Soni.

    So who is this mystery guest for the show's run in Malvern? Previous guests have included Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Joanna Lumley, and Sting. No spoilers here though - "only fools" would let the cat out of the bag!

  • David Chapman

    WANT to bring a bit of sunshine into your life? This week, Malvern Theatres can certainly come up with the goods.
    In an affectionate nod to the comic genius of Eric Morecombe and Ernie Wise, The Play What I Wrote goes a great deal of the way in providing the kind of comedy which made the pair of funny men the most illustrious and best-loved double act Britain ever produced.
    So, here’s the scenario: Thom (Thom Tuck) and Dennis (Dennis Herdman) are a comedy couple sliding down the greasy pole of fame. Thom wants to be a serious playwright and has written yet another totally inept play. This one is number 72! It’s about the French Revolution and it’s a corker: A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple.
    Dennis thinks it may bring the comic pair back to public popularity if they stage it as a tribute to Morecombe and Wise, but first he needs to find a celebrity to appear in the play what Thom wrote...
    Fans of Morecombe and Wise will be quick to recognise this scenario.
    In the duo’s TV shows, Ernie’s truly, terrible “play what I wrote” theme was comic gold. Such was its success that big name stars fell over themselves for a cameo role - Glenda Jackson, Peter Cushing, Diana Rigg, Vanessa Redgrave.
    On opening night at Malvern, Sue Holderness of Only Fools and Horses and The Green Green Grass fame was the mystery guest, happy to make the most of duff dialogue and naff acting to be part of the process which succeeded in making the audience bend double with laughter.
    The Play What I Wrote has an immaculate pedigree. First staged 20 years ago, it came about through conversations with Eric Morecombe’s son Gary, involved Eddie Braben - who wrote many of Eric and Ernie’s scripts – was first directed by Kenneth Branagh and picked up a clutch of awards in both the West End and on Broadway. There are nods to some of the celebrated catchphrases and famous gestures, too.
    If you are too young to remember Eric and Ernie, worry not. This romps home with the spirit of the duo’s winning ways. There is silly humour, gags galore, immaculate timing, the gold-coloured stage curtains which were a backdrop to the pair’s chat, the bed they shared and the running gag involving Arthur (Mitesh Soni) the harmonica player.
    From the very start the evening sets a fast and furious pace, manic even, but it mellows for the play, within the play - which is just like the real thing, back in the glorious heyday of Morecombe and Wise.

  • Richard Edmonds

    Playgoers hot in pursuit of a pleasurable night out, need look no further than
    Hamish Mccoll,
    ean Foley and Eddie Braben's breezy nonsense The Play What I Wrote, a tribute to
    the Morecambe and Wise comedy duo, a couple of wonderful clown, who left much
    of Britain with a stitch in their sides for many years.
    And how Time flies!
    This year marks the eightieth anniversary of Morecambe and Wise's first appearance
    as the two people who were amongst the best of British comedy, a fabulous roster
    which included Arthur Askey, Norman Wisdom, Sid Field, Hylda Baker ( whose hidden
    talents included straight acting and a highly-rated performance in John Webster's 17th century classic
    horror shocker: "The Duchess of Malfi"). Then--in an endless list-- there was the wonderful
    Frankie Howerd, Nat Mills and Bobby ( " oh, let's get on with it") Rob Wilton , Frank Randall (exquisite comic timing always)
    and many more.
    The training ground was the North Pier in Blackpool, where holiday makers roared with laughter
    in summer seasons gone by, where "Two Ton Tessie O'Shea" drew admiration with her flashy ukelele
    work and where crooners such as Donald Peers made us swoon with songs which began with the line
    "In a shady nook, by a babbling brook,,,,,,,,".
    I was there with my parents and I loved it, many memories were made and this is something which made
    the comic mayhem of "The Play What I wrote" a kind of nostalgiafest, where comic surrealism becomes
    totally believable, and you convulse with laughter as one unpredictable sequence of sheer madness segues
    into another. Hollywood had its own zanies, of course and you find the same comic genius in Olsen and Johnson's
    film "Hellzapoppin"! and there was always the wonderful Zero Mostel in "A Funny Thing Happened
    on the Way to the Forum" and "The Producers".
    There was a slight geographic confusion early on. I was looking for the logic of straight theatre. Instead I
    got the silly walks and comic put-downs, which brought the house down. Why we were suddenly in the tropics
    on a balcony where the potted plants suddenly assumed gigantic proportions, I do not know, but it was deeply funny.
    The second act was much funnier. We were in the Bastille and the Scarlet Pimpernel (called I think
    "The Pimple")was in danger. A prisoner hung on the wall, with arms eight feet long, a guillotine beheaded somebody
    for something or other, a chorus of dancing skeletons descended from the flies and a member of the company had
    an hilarious moment with a large number of puppets draped on his shoulders who looked upon him as an old friend.
    There is always a celebrity. Who it will be on the night you never know until he or she walks on.The person
    I saw was delightful and drew cheers, wild horses would not drag more from me.
    The three gifted spirits who worked themselves to the bone to set this all this exalted craziness before us, were
    the wonderful Dennis Herdman, Thom Tuck and Mitesh Soni---rarely have I seen actors working so hard to bring all this off
    and therefore I salute them in the name of Aristophanes, who would have loved them.

  • Alison

    Sadly, I didn't enjoy it but others in the audience loved it. The second half was a bit better especially when Thom acted Eric Morecombe. I thought he mimicked him well and was hoping that he would stay as Eric and that would be the joke as he was shorter. However, that wasn't to be. Their singing was the best bit plus the famous actress who was good. Not for me but as I said others loved it

  • Christine

    Very disappointed. A long time Morecambe and Wise fan, hoped for much more. Was not expecting impersonation, but this felt amateurish. We left at the interval - perhaps we should have stayed it out?Others obviously felt the same as we understand that we were not the only ones who had given up. Such a pity.

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