Tickled: The Ken Dodd Story
Searchlight Theatre Company
Greenside @ Nicolson Square
Ken Dodd, the squire of Knotty Ash, (till they saw fit to knight him) is that most unique and delightful of British institutions. One of the last greats of the old variety act and touring stages of the social clubs and holiday theatres.
Set in the early '90s, Tickled finds Dodd, having recently bounced back after his successful defence of the accusations of tax evasion levied against him in 1989. It’s set mainly during the countdown to a variety stage performance, musing on his life, while testing out some new jokes, and remembering old glories.
A sweet delight of a performance as David Robinson embodies the soul and wit of Dodd, with a masterful evocation of his voice, and an occasionally exaggerated hawkish expression. The physicality of the role is understated, but the offhand tics and little waves of the arms really sell the transformation, and it’s easy to allow the illusion to wash over.
There’s probably no higher compliment that could be levelled at the show than saying that it’s the closest you’re likely to get to ever seeing the late great man on stage again, as the jokes and japes, many taken directly from his repertoire, land fast and thick, and rarely miss the mark.
There’s also nothing untoward, seedy or morbid about this play. Dodd was an entertainer and a bringer of happiness, and as such, there’s no need here to plumb imagined depths through the dark night of his soul. Instead, this is a sweet and loving homage to the man, and one that, unlike his marathon-like comedy shows, actually will finish on time!
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan