Theatre review: Sons of the Desert

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'Sons of the Desert' © Dave Evans/Royal Court

‘Sons of the Desert’ © Dave Evans/Royal Court

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were brought back to life last night at the Royal Court Theatre in the stage production of ‘Sons of the Desert’.

For anyone who has seen original Laurel and Hardy shows there would be a certain amount of trepidation that this adaptation would struggle to live up to the duo’s undoubtedly first-class stage presence.

However on this occasion, both Laurel (Roy Brandon) and Hardy (Michael Starke) managed an uncanny performance of the original double-act.

Convincing is an understatement. From the start the audience were completely enthralled by the pair’s alikeness, looks, accents and mannerisms, even down to the iconic tie wiggling and hair rustling. Everything was spot on.

The first half featured some classic Stan and Ollie songs and sketches with the whole cast involved, before the second half introduced the Sons of the Desert 1933 film adaptation.

The two undoubtedly gave an enthusiastic and pleasing performance, even when mistakes occurred. Hardy couldn’t help but smile when he spoke the wrong line, correcting himself with: “What I should have said is…”

This had the audience in stitches, and half the cast too, still Brandon and Starke ensured that the show went on.

Speaking about  his role Brandon said: “Me and Mickey (Michael Starke) have known each other for years and whenever we get together we have such a laugh.

Classic Lauren and Hardy tribute in 'Sons of the Desert' © Dave Evans/Royal Court

Classic Lauren and Hardy tribute in ‘Sons of the Desert’ © Dave Evans/Royal Court

“We’ve both done our fair share of stand-up and impressions and we have been saying for a long time that we should do some sort of double act, so this is perfect for us both! It’s a big ask because they are such massive screen icons but we will have a ball doing it and hopefully the audience will too!”

The never ending work of the production team was applauded on several occasions as stage sets ran smoothly and effortlessly.

This was particularly evident in the scene were Laurel and Hardy decided to hide from their wives in the loft for fear of being discovered.  The effort devoted to the production was remarkable as was the performance of the whole cast.

The show came to an end but not before the eagerly awaited catchphrase by Hardy: “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”

The world’s first stage production of Sons of the Desert will run at the Royal Court until Saturday 26 October.

Additional reporting by Gemma Brezinski

About Kerryleigh Gough, JMU Journalism