Hancock’s Half Hour

James Hurn - Hancocks Half Hour: Lighthouse, Poole. (4th March, 2017)

Actor, impressionist and voice-over artist James Hurn turned the clock back 60 years to celebrate the genius that was Tony Hancock. This one man  show finds Hurn delivering three classic episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour… and doing ALL the voices himself.

It’s a breathtaking feat that not only finds him voicing Hancock but a supporting cast that includes Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Bill Kerr, Hugh Lloyd and even Hattie Jacques.

The original Galton and Simpson radio scripts are superb, the stories have aged remarkably well and Hurn has the voices off to a tee but as a stage show there is something lacking.

Delivered script-in-hand - not that he actually needs it - in front of a single microphone the production attempts to evoke the idea of a 1950s/60s radio broadcast.  In fact its more like watching someone perform a  well-honed party piece.

No one could accuse James Hurn of being less than excellent in his attention to vocal detail but by delivering so many different voices in a series of single scripts he inevitably sacrifices some of the dramatic tension and comedic impact.

Even James Hurn - described by Dead Ringers maestro John Culshaw as  “Utterly masterful and quite, quite superb - cannot be two people at once.

So while this is a very clever show which highlights the brilliance of Tony Hancock, his esteemed supporting cast and the superbly crafted scripts of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, it doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the originals.

 This should have been an important production locally. Tony Hancock grew up in nearby Bournemouth and launched his comedy career in the town.

Oddly though, the production - dedicated to the memory of Alan Simpson who died last month - received a rather lacklustre response. What a shame!

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022