sat 18/11/2017

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, Eventim Apollo | reviews, news & interviews

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, Eventim Apollo

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, Eventim Apollo

Oi! Time has not withered the two legends' characters or catchphrases

Smashy and Noncey: helping the police with their enquiries

Loadsamoney stomps on clutching a wad of twenties. He hasn’t been seen since the Eighties, he advises, because he became irrelevant. In the strict sense Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse have never been relevant. Relevant comedy has a habit of becoming irrelevant, which is why their Legends! tour is such a treat for audiences over a certain age. It issues a gloriously defiant two-fingered salute to time and tide and political correctness (we are welcomed as “ladies and gentlemen and transsexuals”).

The years have worked their magic, too. When the Old Gits motor onstage on their mobility scooters, Whitehouse remarks that Enfield nowadays needs less time to be made up for the part. And yet the energy they require to get through the evening is prodigious. There are more characters and sketches than you can shake a stick at in a script that calls for frantic backstage costume changes and multiple application of wigs and splendid false ears.

Deft use of the big screen mounted upstage plays for time – featuring the only appearance of Kevin the teenager, and a factually inaccurate tribute to the recently deceased, including Saddam and Simon Cowell. And frequently they perform solo. Highlights include Enfield as the baffled father of the bridegroom doing his best not to sound homophobic, and Whitehouse’s multilingual football manager.

But the show most often reaches peaks of delirium when both are onstage. Their garrulous surgeons and old buffers outing “quares” (pictured right) reduce the audience to paroxysms with something only these two could pull off: shameless repetition of a catchphrase. When they’re both on there’s also the chance to bumble off script, mislay cues, and to corpse. Also to lay into each other (“Enfield invented Whitehouse,” growls the former in the character of his aggressive pub bore).

To muddle through the back catalogue without the requisite staffing, they double up on the Dragon's Den panel, while there are only two Scousers. Enfield collects his trousers from Whitehouse’s Suits You character, and Wayne Slob appears alone, briefly joined by a daughter wearing a "Kathy Burqa" (Catherine Shepherd is the talented dogsbody in the thankless role of straight woman).

If they still offer a loose form of social commentary, Legends! is really about the world changing around them: football becoming foreign and, worse, feminised; gender identity growing multifarious; Loadsamoney slipping into inadvertent Russian; DJs going up before the beak for interfering with minors back in the Seventies (that's Smashy and Noncey). If anything Tim Nice But Dim, his old pals now running the country, is the only character whose relevance has actually augmented.

There is the odd unavoidable lull or clunk but overall the show has the ramshackle charm of rough theatre put together on the hoof. A couple of times audience volunteers are summoned to add to the fun. Plenty of celebs, some of them perhaps in the audience, are twitted, while the stars big themselves up. Literally in a filmed sketch which finds the surgeons both painted by Lucian Freud, who has generously endowed them with superhuman tackle. And why not? They deserve it.

  • Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse: Legends! continues until 2 December

 

The show most often reaches peaks of delirium when both are onstage

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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