Previewed 3 April 2003, Opened 8 April 2003, Closed 2 August 2003 at the Garrick Theatre
Jerome Flynn stars in John Fisher's play about Tommy Cooper - Jus' Like That! in London for a limited season
Tommy Cooper was one of the few who really deserved the title 'comic genius'. His unique, eccentric, deceptively simple humour brought a little magic into British comedy - and now this remarkable celebration brings the much-loved entertainer vividly to life.
All the familiar trademarks are here: the fez, the laugh, the 'hats' routine, the bottle and the glass. But the play also takes us behind the scenes to meet the man beneath the fez. Cooper the troubled perfectionist, whose energy and anxieties were the driving force behind this 'genial giant'. Cooper the private man, who died the most public of deaths on live television before an audience of millions - Nineteen years on and a large man in a funny hat is set to light up the stage once more.
"The show is mad, it's fun and lively and it brings Tommy back to the people," says Jerome Flynn. "It's directed by Simon Callow who helped my incredible nerves and I'm loving every minute. It's just me, 100 props and six dancing girls, which was terrifying to begin with, but is a terrific feeling when you get it right."
One-man show starring Jerome Flynn. Written and created by John Fisher. Directed by Simon Callow with choreography by Craig Revel Horwood, magic direction by Geoffrey Durham, designs by Christopher Woods, lighting by Nick Richings, sound by Mike Walker and original musical by Paul Bateman. Jerome Flynn is probably best known for his TV role as 'Paddy' in Soldier, Soldier and for the No 1 hit recording of Unchained Melody that he made with his co-star Robson Green. His other television roles include 'Kenny (Rambo) Baines' in London's Burning, 'Eddie' in Ain't Misbehavin' and as 'DC Tom McCabe' in the BBC series Badger. Simon Callow's West End directing credits include the classic musical The Pajama Game starring Leslie Ash at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1999. Craig Revel Horwood's West End credits include the musical Hard Times at the Haymarket Theatre in 2000.
"What a joy it was last night to see the old master's memory honoured in style by Jerome Flynn. The Soldier Soldier star is a revelation as he delivers a seamless impression of probably the most impersonated man in showbiz history. Director Simon Callow plays it strictly for laughs as Fabulous Flynn brings Tommy Cooper back to life... And what brilliant jokes. Stupid, childish but, on his wife's insistence, never dirty. Throughout this terrific two-hour show they come thick and fast. Most of Flynn's solo efforts - complimented only by the occasional dancing showgirl - take the form of recreating Cooper's legendary live performance. But, alone in his dressing room, the hard-drinking star reflects on the secrets of a career which at one point made him the highest-paid star on British TV. While pouring himself industrial sized glasses of neat gin, our hero pays tribute to his devoted wife Gwen - who he always called Dove - and his mistress Mary who, while on tour staying in hotels, would cook him meals on a portable gas ring to counteract his chronic insomnia... A celebration of an all-time great." The Daily Mirror
"Jus' Like That! is a mere tribute performed by a very good actor. John Fisher's show, niftily directed by Simon Callow, lacks heart, genius, delirium, belly laughs and ecstasy. Everything, in short, that you'd want for your money in memory of Tommy Cooper... Jerome Flynn is too short, too padded, too nervous, too anxious to please, probably too fit and certainly too exact to be Cooper. His jaw juts, his blue eyes stare, his red fez wobbles. He's got the South London drawl down to a tee. He times the magic tricks to perfection. But he lacks the killer quality of total relaxation on stage that marks the great comedians... The greatness of Cooper was in the way he crept up on himself, took himself, and us, by surprise. Here, Jerome bends the knee in empty adoration." The Daily Mail
"Jerome Flynn is exceptionally good as Cooper and John Fisher's play... does engage with his subject to some degree, though the play still doesn't tell us very much. We see Tommy Cooper doing a set, we then repair to his dressing room, where he ruminates on his life and drops a few biographical details, and finally we see him doing another set. The result is a loving tribute to a comic genius, but while it shows us the man's talent, it doesn't get under his skin to explain it. As a tribute it's enjoyable; as drama it's disappointing... Jerome Flynn is remarkable as Cooper: he has his mannerisms, expressions and delivery off to perfection, captivating us with that toothy grin, stiff-legged gait and dark cackle. His mastery of the tricks is impressive, as are his verbal timing and his pratfalls, reproduced in affectionate detail by the director, Simon Callow... The piece is hampered by being a one-man show, so that an artificial confessional style is Cooper's only way of telling us anything. So he chatters away to himself, bantering, tippling and letting slip facts about his life - how he became a comedian because he was bullied about his size, how he met his wife, why he adopted the fez and so on. It's a glimpse into his life, but it's only a glimpse, which makes for thin, frustrating drama." The Financial Times
Jus' Like That! in London at the Garrick Theatre previewed from 3 April 2003, opened on 8 April 2003 and closed on 2 August 2003