One Night Stan

Miles Gallant
Fitzalan Productions in association with Fringe Management
Assembly George Square

Miles Gallant has written an affectionate biographical play, not only about Stan Laurel but also Oliver Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and the era when Vaudeville transferred into movie theatres.

Everyone now remembers Laurel as the pathetic fall guy who starred opposite the much more imposing Hardy. In fact, as we learn, there was far more to this Lancastrian than talent as a comic.

He came from a stage family, although Dad deserted the boards for management long before Stan Jefferson (his real name) made his first appearances as a boy prodigy.

The comic spent ten years becoming an overnight success and much of his life envying Charlie Chaplin but admiring the late Dan Leno.

Laurel's first entry into the movies was as a director, a role that continued throughout a career where he appeared on film as a dunderhead but clearly was anything but.

Only when he met Oliver Hardy did Laurel's career really take off and, even then, it was not unremittingly successful, as they sold out to the big studios, which then somehow lost the magic.

As a result, when we meet him, the older, wiser man is back treading the English boards with his pal, so that the story is related from a dowdy Plymouth dressing room.

This show works because it has been well researched by a man who clearly cares deeply about his subject. It also helps that he looks right.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher