Review: Formby, Assembly One

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LITTLE Stick of Blackpool Rock was once banned by the BBC for its suggestive lyrics. Performed here by lifelong George Formby fan Ewan Wardrop opening his entertaining one-man show, it is bawdy seaside postcard humour set to music.

***

That humour, and his genius with the banjolele, led to Formby becoming Britain’s top entertainer during the 1930s.

This show is presented as a confessional, telling us some of Formby’s remarkable life story. The son of another hugely successful music hall performer, he was a rather unsuccessful jockey in Ireland before taking to the stage. He played to mixed-race audiences in South Africa during the onset of apartheid, and entertained three million troops during the Second World War.

One memorable performance happened 150 yards from enemy lines, and the vignette where Wardrop wonders what the Germans would have made of it is amusing.

The pace varies nicely as Wardrop takes on the character of some key figures from Formby’s story, not least wife Beryl, a formidable clog dancer who took a tight hold of his business affairs.

A loving, and occasionally moving tribute, ably performed, there’s even a chance for some audience interaction – songsheets are handed out beforehand for the closing singalong.

Wardrop clearly wants us all to share in his affection for Formby and he succeeds 
admirably.

Until August 27