The Play What I Wrote
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|The Play What I Wrote|
Liverpool Playhouse Theatre |
|Subject||Morecambe and Wise|
The Play What I Wrote is a comedy play written by Hamish McColl, Sean Foley and Eddie Braben, starring Foley and McColl (the double act The Right Size, playing characters named "Sean" and "Hamish"), with Toby Jones, directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced in its original production by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers.
The show is a celebration of the British double act Morecambe and Wise, and an irreverent and farcical exploration of the nature of double acts in general. Its title is drawn from one of Morecambe and Wise's catchphrases, as is "A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple", the "play within a play" (with a cameo by a mystery guest star) which formed the play's second half. It is named after the "play wot I wrote", the inept play supposedly written by Wise and featuring a celebrity guest which formed the finale to each Morecambe and Wise show. In The Play What I Wrote, "Sean" writes a similarly inept play and is humoured by "Hamish" in the first half by having it performed. As in the Morecambe and Wise antecedent, the celebrity would play him or herself set up to appear, rather foolishly, as the title character of this play within a play. Celebrities who appeared as the mystery guest during the show's London run included Ralph Fiennes (who appeared on opening night), Ewan McGregor, Cilla Black and Sue Johnston. Kevin Kline, Roger Moore (who suffered a heart attack onstage one night during the performance), Alan Alda, Jeff Goldblum and Daniel Radcliffe were among those who appeared in the Broadway run.
The play debuted at the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre in the summer of 2001. It then premiered in the West End at the Wyndham's Theatre in November 2001, directed by Kenneth Branagh. The play proved a prolonged success and earned positive reviews. Michael Billington, reviewing for The Guardian, wrote: "The real joy of the evening, however, is that the gags come thick and fast, producing a kind of comic delirium. Matt Wolf, reviewing for Variety, wrote "...it’s the innocence of “The Play What I Wrote” (the grammatical inaccuracy of the title is part of its point) that represents the evening’s best calling card,...the evening trades in old-fashioned verbal jokes...and visual ones." It won Foley and McColl a joint Best Actor nomination at the 2002 Laurence Olivier Awards and, although they did not win, the production did achieve an Olivier Award for best comedy and for best actor in a supporting role for Jones.
The play opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre on March 30, 2003 and closed on June 15, 2003 after 89 performances. It was nominated for the 2003 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event but did not win. One of the show's producers was Mike Nichols, with the cast that featured Sean Foley, Hamish McColl, Toby Jones and Kevin Kline (guest). The script was only slightly rewritten for the benefit of American audiences who were unlikely to have been familiar with Morecambe and Wise.
The show offered tickets for the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth Broadway preview performances for $1, $2, $3, $4, and $5, respectively as a publicity stunt.
- Billington, Michael. "Review. The Play What I Wrote The Guardian, 5 November 2001
- Wolf, Matt. "Review. The Play What I Wrote Variety, 25 November 2001
- Finkle, David. "Review. 'The Play What I Wrote' " theatermania.com, March 30, 2003
- The Play What I Wrote Playbill, retrieved 20 February 2018
- Isherwood, Charles. "Review. 'The Play What I Wrote' " Variety, 30 March 2003
- Cote, David. "There's no business like Broadway's: lessons in ticket pricing from New York" The Guardian, 17 January 2003