Review: Formby @ New Theatre
George Formby is a British icon even if his naffness prevails. With the comeback of the ukulele now in full swing, this is a timely piece, if ever there was one.
Ewan Wardrop has created a one-man-show performing as our Formby and other people in his life. He sings, dances, plays the uke and banjos and does an impressive and terrific job of it. You do have to focus when it’s a one-person-show. They don’t always work but this just about did. The show did not need an interval though. He did turn to the audience and say at the very beginning ‘I know what your thinking, looks nothing like him’. The real Formby was hardly a great looker, but his flare is well known and this seeps into Wardrop for his show.
I guess you have to be a fan of his music in order to really appreciate this. His life was not as interesting as you would have believed. His music in my mind always felt it should accompany those saucy seaside postcards of silly sexual scenarios. The innuendo in his writing is some of the best parts of his output. Declaring quite cheeky statements, but getting away with them all because of the wording.
One thing is certain; Mrs Formby was an absolute mess of obsessive and demanding proportions. The type of woman you would want to run miles way from. We know when Wardrop was playing her, since he popped on a feather boa and tapped danced a great deal. It’s no surprise Wardrop has been in dance before, with Matthew Bourne no less.
I did get the feeling that I wasn’t in on the act. No surprise older members of the audience were singing along to songs to which I did not know the words. It was a good audience, as much as there could be for a half-full theatre. A man came out of the audience at the end to play on the uke to the audience delectation. Formby is most famous for the songs When I’m Cleaning Windows and Leaning On A Lamp-post. I knew the former but still not enough lyrics to sing along. The part in German was the funniest bit of the night, when he had to perform to our soldiers and they couldn’t laugh or applauded. The Germans give a take on what they think he is doing over there.
To go all viral on YouTube, Wardrop has made a Formby take of one of 50 Cent's raps. This is hilarious and makes you completely realise how much music has changed over the decades.
To quote the man himself: "Turned out alright again, hasn’t it?"
Yes, just about.